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By Ezra Cappell

Appears to be like on the position of Jewish American fiction within the greater context of yank culture.

In American Talmud, Ezra Cappell redefines the style of Jewish American fiction and locations it squarely in the greater context of yankee literature. Cappell departs from the normal method of defining Jewish American authors completely by way of their ethnic origins and sociological constructs, and in its place contextualizes their fiction in the theological historical past of Jewish tradition. by means of intentionally emphasizing historic and ethnographic hyperlinks to religions, spiritual texts, and traditions, Cappell demonstrates that twentieth-century and modern Jewish American fiction writers were codifying a brand new Talmud, an American Talmud, and argues that the literary construction of Jews in the US should be noticeable as another level of rabbinic statement at the scriptural inheritance of the Jewish humans.

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Extra info for American Talmud: The Cultural Work of Jewish American Fiction

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Malamud’s post-Holocaust dilemma might be seen in terms of contrasting questions, one humanistic and the other aesthetic: how is a good person to live, and how might a good writer best represent the cataclysm of the Holocaust? Malamud once said: “The suffering of the Jews is a distinct thing for me. I for one believe that not enough has been made of the tragedy of the destruction of six million Jews. Somebody has to cry—even if it’s a writer, twenty years later” (Rothstein 26). In interviews Malamud often asserted that the advent of World War II and the Holocaust first convinced him to become a writer.

Early in A Star Shines over Mt. Morris Park, the first volume of Mercy of a Rude Stream, Roth discusses the shattered vessel of his psyche, dating the split in self to the moment the Stigman family (clearly the Schearls from Call It Sleep) abandoned East Ninth Street in their move uptown to a non-Jewish block near Mt. Morris Park in Harlem. Roth suggests that “it was then and there the desolate breach opened between himself and himself that was never to close” (18). Roth’s project in writing Mercy is an attempt in old age to confess and give testimony to the horrors of his formative years and in so doing reconcile with himself.

As Goldberg listens to Gassner’s lecture he thinks to himself: “How easy it is to hide the deepest wounds, and how proud I was at the job I had done” (The Complete Stories 367). Martin Goldberg accurately assesses Gassner’s ability to hide his terror at speaking English; his thought also reflects Malamud’s reluctance to grapple with the deepest wounds of the Holocaust in his fiction. The deepest wounds Malamud does address are casualties of aesthetics and representation, not the barbarism normally associated with the Holocaust.

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