By RANDOM HOUSE
OF all the Old Testament worthies, Jacob is the hardest to admire, for he seems both cowardly and tricky. And yet he is singularly blessed both in worldly goods and in the favor of God. This apparent discrepancy between his deserts and his rewards makes him a fascinating study and may suggest a reason why Mr. Fineman chose him as the subject of an apologia. The story told in some ten chapters of Genesis is followed faithfully, but is subtly universalized by the introduction of modern touches and modern knowledge and ways of thinking. Esau, Isaac, Laban, and Jacob are presented as main human types — the man of action, the poet-dreamer, the man of affairs, and the intellectual; and the incidents, as in the Bible, concern the most general human experiences — birth, passion, marriage, and death. The result is both impressive and beautiful. Jacob’s discussion of his own motives is ingenious, if not always quite convincing. He is presented as a human type of the future, a man who, though erring, is always seeking wisdom; and his account of his experience as son, father, lover, and husband is sometimes very moving and often wise. The best praise that one can give to the novel is that it makes one go back to the Old Testament and read it again and more imaginatively. R.M.G.