By Joseph H. Udelson
Udelson offers a trenchant research of Zangwill's works set inside of a ancient context, i.e., Jewish emancipation and the predicament of the way one may stay absolutely Jewish whereas changing into absolutely glossy.
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Extra resources for Dreamer of the ghetto : the life and works of Israel Zangwill
While a few authors, most notably George Gissing, expressed an embittered acquiescence to the corruption and poverty he so vividly described, and others, like Wilkie Collins, pursued the later Dickens's fascination with the mystery novel, most authors mobilized humor as a tool to unmask the fraudulent and thereby point the way to a brighter future. Thus if the solitary contemplative writers stressed the individual's nonrational traits, such as character and will, social assertivist authors continued to employ humor in the service of reason to further social progress.
The former stressed the reality of action and the thematic plot while the latter, critical of its predecessor, demanded accuracy of psychological, and even metaphysical, portraiture. That Zangwill could smoothly utilize ideas and programs derived from both these traditions was possible because they were not merely competing literary modes, each with its own special style and readership, although this is certainly also the case. This distinction is evident in reactions the two traditions provided to the collapse of the midVictorian ethos of confident optimism and faith.
The Jews were to be granted equality as individual citizens, and the kehilla, as repository of Jewish autonomy, was to be eliminated. 3 Thus what was gained by the Jew as individual was at the cost of Jew as member of a distinctive people within the nationstate. The price, its precise significance unappreciated and its consequences obscure, was deemed well worth the proffered advantages. Although there was intense dissension among the reformers, violent disagreement over exactly what constituted the essentials of the Jewish heritage, all agreed that at least some modernizations and modifications were desirable.