In the Mainstream: The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Literature, 1950s-1980s

In the Mainstream: The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Literature, 1950s-1980s

In the Mainstream: The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Literature, 1950s-1980s

In the Mainstream: The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Literature, 1950s-1980s

Synopsis

In the Mainstream represents the second in a multi-volume study of the Jewish American as both writer and character in our nation's literature. This book focuses on the period from 1950 to the 1980s. The author provides abundant evidence that by the end of the 1950s, Jewish writers had achieved full status in the realm of American fiction. His study examines precursors and strains of influence relating to this development, with special attention to the influence occasioned by Menorah Journal, Partisan Review, and Commentary.

Excerpt

The Contributions in Ethnic Studies series focuses on the problems that arise when people with different cultures and goals come together and interact productively or tragically. The modes of adjustment or conflict are various, but usually one group dominates or attempts to dominate the other. Eventually some accommodation is reached: the process is likely to be long and, for the weaker group, painful. No one scholarly discipline monopolizes the research necessary to comprehend these intergroup relations. The emerging analysis, consequently, is of interest to historians, social scientists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and scholars in communication studies.

For centuries Jews everywhere have been the victims of prejudice and discrimination while preserving many of the main tenets of their culture and religious beliefs. In these three volumes the treatment of Jews in fiction, serious journals, drama, and poetry by Jewish and non-Jewish authors in the United States during the twentieth century is vividly portrayed. In each case, a concise, arresting, critical summary of the story, plot or theme follows the salient, biographical details concerning the writer himself or herself. The reader thus either can nostalgically recall a book or character he once read or knew, or else he can be stimulated to pursue for the first time a literary experience by dipping or plunging into the publications of a popular or scarcely known writer.

We have in these pages an opportunity to view the impact of changes within American society upon the depiction of Jewish characters and indeed of anti-Semitism among gentile and Jewish authors. In the earlier part of the period conditions in the slums of East Side New York City, for example, impelled many Jews to join the forces supporting unions and the American version of socialism. Then the rise of Nazi ideology in the 1930s and later the depictions of the Holocaust caused Jews and non-Jews alike to appraise . . .

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