Page 75 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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Israel, that (for him) new, vibrant, creative Jewish society. As out­
sider, he is critical of the Frieman values, the accent they place on
money, the inability to use that money constructively, the lip serv­
ice paid to Jewishness combined with a lack of genuine concern
for meaningful Jewish survival. The narratorial stance is also not
in doubt. It sees this Frieman world as fossilized, complacent and
hypocritical. The point of view presented is mostly Rosemary’s,
but not entirely, as we are aware too that Rosemary has to grow
and to mature. This must be particularly borne in mind as
was subjected to the charge of anti-Semitism. The fig­
ures in it are, after all, caricatures. Pollins, for example, quotes
what is an apparently narratorial comment about a wedding
guest where Rosemary is also present, “The voice was glutinous,
its owner swarthy, huge-nosed, Asiatic.” But this interpretation is
wrong-headed, as the next sentence indicates, “She wanted to
turn away.” So we see that this is after all not an authorial state­
ment but rather a sentiment felt by Rosemary, although not
directly attributed to her. Since the whole point of the novel is to
present the heroine’s hostile reaction to the tight Jewish environ­
ment, it is not unlikely that she should feel this way, and so the
comment is comprehensible and reasonable in the context. What­
ever the virtues or faults of the novel, one must distinguish
between authorial view, narratorial weight and the opinions of
the characters as drawn. These latter may legitimately express
themselves in a manner consistent with the terms of the work.
There are such striking surface resemblances between Rose­
mary Friedman’s
Proofs of affection
The bankrupts
that the
former looks like a riposte to the latter, adopting a similar family
structure in o rd e r to convey the opposite impression. Here,
Sydney Shelton is the head of a traditional Jewish household, and
wants nothing more than that his children, adolescent or adult,
should retain that tradition, i.e. Sydney’s own tradition and what
he perceives as age-old Judaism. As in the previously discussed
novels, the children are ranged along a curve of acceptance/re­
jection in their attitudes to parental authority. They operate, too,
within the compass o f middle-class, suburban, Jewish life in
North-West London. But whereas the rebellion seems aesthetic­
ally and spiritually justified in
The crossing point
and actually