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History Literature / UntoTheFourthGeneration

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->Marten didn't see it. Yet somehow he knew that all would be well with him. Somehow, as never before, he knew. ...
-->Final lines, [[OrwellianRetcon added later on]]

First published in ''Magazine/TheMagazineOfFantasyAndScienceFiction'' (April 1959 issue), by Creator/IsaacAsimov, this story focuses on Sam Marten, a young man trying to earn his way into the world as a businessman. The ending was [[OrwellianRetcon modified from the original publication]] when he entered it in ''Literature/NightfallAndOtherStories''.

Sam Marten is leaving a taxi at ten of noon, stumbling out and seeing a truck emblazoned with "F. Lewkowitz and Sons, Wholesale Clothiers". Immediately he [[SpellMyNameWithAnS corrects it to Levkowich]] and he second-guesses himself, wondering why he would correct it before dismissing the name and heading to his business meeting. Seeing the name Lafkowitz again distracts him, and he questions why he's disappointed in the answer.

Throughout the entire lunch meeting, Marten is distracted from the business and realizes that he's making a terrible impression. Once he's out, though, he continues his search for a Levkowich amoung the many misspellings around him.

Finally, Marten finds an old man in a park, who introduces himself as "Phinehas ben Jehudah, assigned the name Levkovich by the ukase of the Tsar". He is Marten's [[TheNamesake great-great-grandfather]] and the two bond over their common Jewish heritage, Marten asking Levkovich for his blessing in business and to pursue a woman in marriage. Levkovich fades away and Marten [[ResetButton returns to the taxi, at ten of noon]].

"Unto the Fourth Generation" has been republished several times;
''{{Magazine/Fiction}}'' (issue #84, November 1960), ''Literature/ADecadeOfFantasyAndScienceFiction'' (1960), ''Magazine/VentureScienceFiction'' (December 1964 issue, UK distribution), ''{{Magazine/Urania}}'' (issue #382, May 1965), ''Literature/NightfallAndOtherStories '' (1969), ''Literature/WanderingStarsAnAnthologyOfJewishFantasyAndScienceFiction'' (1974), ''Literature/TheBestScienceFictionOfIsaacAsimov'' (1986), ''Literature/TheAsimovChroniclesFiftyYearsOfIsaacAsimov'' (1989), ''Literature/TheCompleteStories, Volume 1'' (1990), and ''Literature/HauntedAmericaStarSpangledSupernaturalStories'' (1991).
!!"Unto the Fourth Generation" contains examples of:

* AlterKocker: The Levkovich that Marten is looking for is an old Jewish man, born Phinehas ben Jehudah and married Sarah. His youngest daughter Leah had moved to America with her husband. They begin speaking to each other as "my father" and "my son" (although they are four generations separated).
* AsTheGoodBookSays: The title is made to reference the way the Old Testament would speak about children, your children's children, and unto the third and fourth generation.
* TheNamesake: This story is about a young man, fresh from college, meeting his great-great-grandfather; four generations away. The main character is the first male descendant born in the new world.
* OrwellianRetcon: The original story ended after [[ResetButton the reset]] and this time Sam Marten missed seeing the red truck. Due to outside influences, Dr Asimov added two lines, telling the audience how Marten had been affected by the events of the story.
* PauperPatches: When encountered by the main character, Levkovich has pants so old they're patched, and shoes so old they've lost their shape and have to be kept on with strips of burlap wrapped around them.
* ResetButton: The story begins at ten of noon and for two hours Marten searches for the [[SpellMyNameWithAnS correct spelling]] of Levkovich. After Marten and Levkovich say goodbye, the story returns to "ten of noon" the same day.
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: The main character sees the name Lewkowitz on the side of a truck, and identifies it as wrong (but doesn't understand why it is wrong). He then encounters Lafkowitz, Lefkowitz, Lefkowich, Lefkowicz, Levkow, and Levkowitz... all in search for a Levkovich. When he finds them, they explain that they had a similar experience, finding "Martins and Martines and Mortons and Mertons", all while trying to meet Marten.
* TheTaxi: In crowded cities, many people choose to use taxis instead of buying a car. Our protagonist, Sam Marten, uses one to get to his business lunch, but chooses to walk around afterwards in order to search for the [[SpellMyNameWithAnS correct spelling]] of Levkovich. %%Cameo
* TimeStandsStill: When Marten finds Levkovich, they're in a park that the narration describes in terms of paused action. This frozen tableau lasts until their meeting is over and Marten is returned to [[ResetButton the start of the story]].
-->"The trees were still and the leaves hung in odd, suspended attitudes. The sunlight was a dead weight upon him and gave no warmth.\\
He was running, but his feet kicked up no dust and a tuft of grass on which he placed his weight did not bend."
* TranslatorMicrobes: The main character notices that the Levkovich he meets is not speaking English despite hearing that from the old man. How their speech is getting translated isnít explained, but they notice that they can somewhat hear the original language when the other person speaks.
* UnfinishedBusiness: In this story, a Levkovich of the 19th century is transported to modern day 1950s New York, ostensibly before he has died. However, the two actually meet in a park where neither are able to affect the grass or dust on the ground, implying some sort of between-worlds environment where the long-dead Levkovich is allowed to see his first male descendant in America. Meeting this son allows him to go to his ancestors in peace.

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