Authenticity, Complaint, and the 'Russianness' of American Jewish Literature

Gabriella Safran, Stanford University
Flyer for Gabriella Safran talk
Monday, November 2, 2015 - 3:30pm
Simpson Center for the Humanities
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It is often alleged that the American Jewish writers who became prominent in the 1960s, such as Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, and Philip Roth, can be seen as continuing an East European literary tradition, that they are linked to Russian writers Nikolai Gogol and Fedor Dostoevsky and Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem. These American Jewish writers are also seen as writing in an "authentic" way, complaining about what they see as wrong and revealing their own true emotions, or those of their characters, at the risk of seeming uncouth. This talk situates the Russian-seeming emotionality of the American Jewish voice in the history of Cold War-era listening.

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