Page 82 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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On the o th e r hand , Jo seph C. Landis reads into the
abovementioned trio’s plots expositions of universalism subli­
mated from East European experiences.2 A quarter of a century
later, the critic Mark Shechner posits a parallel line of reasoning
with regard to the American Jewish novelists.3 He bestows upon
them the title of “intellectual heirs” of 19th-century Haskalah.
Of further interest is the following statement by David H.
Hirsch: “All three (Bellow, Malamud and Roth) have tried in
some way to come to terms with the most elusive of concepts
as far as Americans are concerned — Jewish identity. And all
three have tried to cope with the problem of Jewish suffering
. . . and ultimately relate it to universal human suffering. Fi­
nally, all three have interpolated to a greater or lesser extent,
consciously or unconsciously the rhythms for Yiddish into En­
One additional comment is called for in the area of literary
criticism. Joseph Lowin introduced Cynthia Ozick’s new empha­
sis in writing in “Cynthia Ozick’s Mimesis,”5 identifying her as
the leader of a group of writers who are self-consciously de­
fining themselves as Jews and are attempting to express their
artistic vision in Jewish terms. He concludes his essay with the
assertion that “marginality and victimization” — themes most
closely associated with the Jew in earlier writings — “are not
necessary to a Jewish literature . . . American Jewish writing
is also capable of a very human and profoundly Jewish act of
t’shuvah . . . including its own unique style . . . ” Ozick has
shown in
The Cannibal Galaxy
, New York, 1983, that it is possible
for Jewish writing to be “touched by the Covenant” and yet
passionately wallow in the human reality.
Because of the large volume of books of Jewish interest pub­
lished by commercial houses, the Jewish Book Council makes
available a list of general publishers that are active in the field.
At times a publisher may undertake a special venture, such as
2. In Vol. 25, p. 144, he alludes to the ideal o f “mentschlekhkayt” as char­
acteristic o f the Jewish spirit.
3. In
The Schocken Guide to Jewish Books,
ed. Barry W. Holtz, New York,
Schocken, pp. 274-302.
4. See his “Jewish Identity and Jewish Suffering in Bellow, Malamud and
Philip Roth,” Vol. 29, p. 12.
5. Vol. 42, pp. 74-90.