American Talmud: The Cultural Work of Jewish American by Ezra Cappell

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By Ezra Cappell

Seems on the function of Jewish American fiction within the higher context of yankee culture.

In American Talmud, Ezra Cappell redefines the style of Jewish American fiction and areas it squarely in the better context of yankee literature. Cappell departs from the normal technique of defining Jewish American authors completely by way of their ethnic origins and sociological constructs, and as a substitute contextualizes their fiction in the theological background of Jewish tradition. via 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 creation of Jews in the USA will be obvious as yet another level of rabbinic statement at the scriptural inheritance of the Jewish humans.

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She is just as duplicitous as Freeman in hiding a traditional past and culture. Reflecting the World 45 Thus, Isabella’s treasured past, with which she, and by extension Malamud himself, hypocritically rebukes Freeman, seems as hollow and fake as the Titians and Tintorettos that hang in the halls of the tourist trap her father oversees as caretaker. In Malamud’s system, Italian Jews are just as symbolic and assimilated as their American counterparts. Consequently, Isabella’s suffering becomes divorced from Judaism itself, rendering her rejection of Freeman on the grounds of a Jewish identity contrived and hypocritical.

Yet the novel ends less upon a condition of triumph as in a “trancelike state” of indeterminacy as Hana Wirth-Nesher suggests. Roth and his Adam Kadmon creation David are in a state of suspended animation, waiting for the elusive third stage in Lurianic Kabbalah, the long journey of Tikkun which looms ahead as a perpetual state of indeterminacy for the young Jewish American writer. Although the critics have disagreed over the ultimate meaning of David’s electrocution in chapter 21 of “The Rail,” most tend to read this chapter as a rebirthing scene in which David reaffirms his Judaism.

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. Therefore, Henry Roth might well be the perfect choice to begin this study. JEWISH AMERICAN LITERARY RENAISSANCE In Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, Gershom Scholem quotes Thomas Aquinas’s definition of mystics as people who follow the psalmist: “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:9).

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