The archive also contains a manuscript of an unpublished novel Mrs. Grade wrote, whose main characters are David Carency, a writer; his wife Ginna; and Samuel Usher, the publisher of a Yiddish newspaper. YIVO researchers said Usher is a thinly veiled version of a former editor of Der Tog, a popular Yiddish daily at the time.
“Ginna Carency, witty, sharp and rapidly acquiring encyclopedic knowledge, was not afraid of her husband’s mistresses,” the typed manuscript says. “She knew him well, perhaps better than he knew himself, and she knew that none of them will take him away from her but she felt that Samuel Usher, in spite of his age, could take her away from David Carency.”
Like Saul Bellow’s Herzog, Mrs. Grade wrote letters to countless figures voicing her grievances, many of which underscore the depth of her antipathy toward Singer. After an article appeared in The New York Times in 2004 pegged to Singer’s centennial that took account of his critics, including her, and praised Grade, she nevertheless sent the deputy culture editor at the time an 18-page long rebuke.
Three years after her husband’s death, she wrote Professor Fishman, Grade’s close friend, letting him know that her husband had regretted “the temporary relationship” and deeply lamented attending Fishman’s wedding and making a toast there.
“She was very jealous of anybody who had a relationship with him, anybody who got close to him,” Professor Fishman said.
Yet the archive indicates he tolerated her behavior.
“In some ways he was tormenting himself, a punishment for abandoning his first wife,” Professor Fishman said.
Still much about the relationship remains a puzzle. For a fuller explanation, Professor Fishman said, “you would need a great novelist.’”