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Jewish Gangsters of Modern Literature - Rachel Rubin

Jewish Gangsters of Modern Literature

Hardcover Published: 5th April 2000
ISBN: 9780252025396
Number Of Pages: 208

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In this vividly written study, Rachel Rubin posits the Jewish literary gangster -- a figure whose violence, transgressiveness, and ongoing internal conflict render him an important symbol of modernity -- as a locus for exploring questions of artistic power in the interwar years. Focusing specifically on the Russian writer Isaac Babel and Americans Mike Gold, Samuel Ornitz, and Daniel Fuchs, but also taking in cartoons, movies, and modernist paintings, Rubin casts the Jewish gangster as a favorite figure used by left-wing Jewish writers to examine their own place in world history.Rubin contends that these writers saw their artistic endeavors as akin to the work of their gangster doubles: outcasts and rebels "kneebreaking" their way into the literary canon while continuing to "do business" with the system. In the hands of Jewish literary communists -- themselves engaged in transgressing cultural boundaries -- the figure of the Jewish gangster provides an occasion to craft a virile Jewish masculinity, to consider the role of vernacular in literature, to interrogate the place of art within a political economy, and to explore the fate of Jewishness in the "new worlds" of the United States and the Soviet Union.In addition to tracing the transformation of a Russian folk hero into a pivotal figure in American literature, Jewish Gangsters of Modern Literature argues persuasively for inducting these leftist writers -- with their interest in the literary gangster who boldly challenges the social and economic hierarchy -- into the circle of experimental modernists that has hitherto excluded them.

Industry Reviews

"Brilliantly and authoritatively initiates a needed analysis of the neglected subject of the motif of the Jewish gangster in life and literature." -- Sam B. Girgus, American Literature

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
A Note on Transliterationp. xiii
Introduction: Reading, Writing, and the Racketsp. 1
Imagine You Are a Tiger: A New Folk Hero in Babel's Odessa Talesp. 15
A Sordid Generation: Plundering Ethnic Culture in Samuel Ornitz's Haunch Paunch and Jowlp. 50
A Gang of Little Yids: Savage Jews in Mike Gold's Jews without Moneyp. 70
Business Is Business: The Death of the Gangster in Daniel Fuchs's Novels of the 1930sp. 119
Conclusion: The Gangster's Funeralp. 141
Notesp. 147
References Citedp. 167
Indexp. 183
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780252025396
ISBN-10: 0252025393
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 5th April 2000
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.13 x 16.51  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.49

Earn 131 Qantas Points
on this Book