The Jew in the American Novel

The Jew in the American Novel

The Jew in the American Novel

The Jew in the American Novel

Excerpt

This essay is intended to be not exhaustive but representative. The few writers who are discussed at any length are those who seem to me (and my personal taste plays a role of which any reader enamored of objectivity should be warned) both most rewarding as artists and most typical as actors in the drama of Jewish cultural life in America. I have not deliberately, however, omitted as untypical any Jewish American fictionist of first excellence. I am aware of how many rather good novelists I have slighted (along with some rather bad ones whom I am glad to pass over in silence); but I will not try to list them here, thus risking further injustice to those whose names fail to come to mind.

What I hope emerges from my study is a general notion of the scope and shape of the Jewish American tradition in fiction--useful to Gentile and Jew, reader and writer alike, not merely as history but as a source of pleasure and self-knowledge. The bonus of satisfaction for the critic engaged on such a job is the privilege of saying once more how much joy and terror and truth he has found, not only in certain widely respected authors but also in such relatively neglected ones as Abraham Cahan, Daniel Fuchs and Henry Roth.

LESLIE A. FIEDLER

Missoula, Montana . . .

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