The year 70 CE is mourned by most Jews as the start of 2000 years of exile and persecution. And yet, were the Jewish people alone in enduring the brutality of Roman legions? The answer is no. Through the life and eyes of Aislin, a maiden in present-day England, whose Celtic community of bards and wizards is obliterated by Roman soldiers, Kaplan shows us that Judeans were only one of countless nations whose culture the Roman Empire sought to destroy.
Aislin, after being courted by a Roman deserter finds her way to Rome. Yet the “Eternal City” is not kind to servants and foreigners, and even less to the mother of a disabled child. On the contrary, the worship of wealth and naked power upon which the Roman Empire is founded, make many thirsty for a kinder and more compassionate understanding of life…
The moral education of the Celtic maiden Aislin and her travels through an Empire that once united East and West, North and South are described by Mitchell James Kaplan with a sensitivity and literary elegance that are rare among contemporary authors.
It is this literary gift that allows the author of “Into the Unbounded Night” to imbue crude and tragic events with timeless meaning. Just one instance of the lessons to be drawn from this novel is that it is often easier for simple and uneducated people like the Celtic maiden Aislin to be touched by Jewish teachings than for Roman potentates convinced that power and pleasure give meaning to civilization.
In times when so many people, including religious leaders of note, assume that intellectual sophistication is the key to appreciating the uniqueness of Judaism, “Into the Unbounded Night” shows us through the life and eyes of a Celtic maiden during the first century CE, how Judaism speaks to righteous people regardless of their rank and education.
Mitchell James Kaplan received his B.A. with Honors in English Literature from Yale University. His 2010 novel, By Fire, By Water, received numerous literary awards. www.mitchelljameskaplan.com