Page 42 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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Our younger Jewish novelists are now writing of the suburbs
to which the children of the old Whitechapel Jews have moved;
they are writing what is now called “the Golders Green Novel.”
Gerda Charles argues “that I for one didn’t write it. I am
mildly astonished when the district of Manor Green is identified
—as it often is—with Golders Green. But if we take the name
of that neighbourhood in its symbolic sense as standing for the
prosperous Jewish middle class way of life anywhere . . . ”
Tha t is where in a sense we came in, for it is what Zangwill
tried to do 70 years ago in his
Grandchildren of the Ghetto,
about
what he called the Jewish “upper middle classes” living in the
snobbish Kensington area and having a grand Jewish Christmas
dinner. The theme seems to have been there all these years, ever
since the sons and daughters of prospering East End and pro-
vincial Jews climbed into the ranks of the middle classes. Pro-
fessor Jack Isaacs once lumped them all together—“a mixture of
Whitechapel, Golders Green, Bayswater and Hackney Downs.”
Round the turn of the century Zangwill’s contemporaries,
Leonard Merrick, Julia Frankau and others were picturing as
savagely as any of our angry writers today the fat smugness of the
rich Anglo-Jews whose milieu for them was Maida Vale. If our
younger Anglo-Jewish writers can really jolt Golders Green and
all it stands for “into taking another look at themselves and the
kind of society they have created,” they will deserve our warm
thanks.