“The Great Loss”

Bernard Malamud, “The German Refugee” (1963)
  • Lilian R. Furst


“To many of these people, articulate as they were, the great loss was the loss of language—that they could no longer say what was in them to say” (360). “These people” are the German refugees in New York in the summer of 1939, “accomplished men” (358), who had achieved high professional standing in their native land and who suddenly find themselves stranded because of their poor English. As one of them puts it, “ ‘I feel like a child, or worse, often like a moron. I am left with myself unexpressed… My tongue hangs useless’ ” (358). “The German Refugee” is a powerful confrontation of one of the escapees’ major obstacles to resettlement in the host country, the problem of acquiring the local language as quickly as possible.


Host Country Affectionate Loyalty Weimar Republic German Accent Random Destination 
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© Lilian R. Furst 2005

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  • Lilian R. Furst

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