By Ezra Cappell
Seems to be on the position of Jewish American fiction within the better context of yankee culture.
In American Talmud, Ezra Cappell redefines the style of Jewish American fiction and areas it squarely in the greater context of yank literature. Cappell departs from the traditional technique of defining Jewish American authors exclusively by way of their ethnic origins and sociological constructs, and in its place contextualizes their fiction in the theological background of Jewish tradition. by way of intentionally emphasizing old 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 USA can be obvious as yet one more degree of rabbinic observation at the scriptural inheritance of the Jewish humans.
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Extra resources for American Talmud: The Cultural Work of Jewish American Fiction
INTRODUCTION Recently, at the Modern Language Association’s annual meeting, I helped organize a panel on contemporary Jewish American writing. We decided on the topic of “New Voices,” and as part of that panel I discussed the work of Henry Roth, a writer usually associated with the modernist movement in literature—hardly a “new voice” that the panel seemed to call for. Indeed, numerous conference participants thought Roth a strange choice for a panel dealing with fresh and new literary voices. However, with the publication of all four volumes of Mercy of a Rude Stream, we are now in a position to more fully understand all of Henry Roth’s voices: the old and the new, the modern novelist alongside the postmodern memoirist.
Isabella flees from Freeman, who attempts to reverse his denials, but it is too late, and he ends the story enveloped in the veiled mist rising from the lake as he embraces moonlit stone instead of his lover. In 1958 Malamud takes it on faith that this image of suffering and unspeakable horror will create a lasting impression on the reader. I would argue that Malamud’s misuse of this Holocaust image has the opposite effect on his readers: instead of sensitizing them to the destruction of Nazi totalitarianism, such misuse of Holocaust imagery 44 AMERICAN TALMUD anesthetizes readers.
In Roth’s case it took over sixty years for those sparks, first glimpsed in Call It Sleep, to once again give light in Mercy of a Rude Stream. 2 Instead of the process of Tikkun olam, of healing the world through the Jewish people becoming “a light unto the nations,” Kabbalah reimagines Tikkun olam as a personal process of Tikkun aztmi, a healing of the self. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the Jewish people entered yet another difficult exile within an exile. The spiritual force was turned inward.
American Talmud: The Cultural Work of Jewish American Fiction by Ezra Cappell