By Emily Miller Budick
In an try to lend a extra nuanced ear to the continuing discussion among African and Jewish americans, Emily Budick examines the works of a number writers, critics, and teachers from the Fifties throughout the Nineteen Eighties. This learn files conversations either particular, resembling essays and letters, and oblique, comparable to the fiction of Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Alice Walker, Cynthia Ozick, Toni Morrison, and James Baldwin. the aim is to appreciate how this discussion has engendered misperceptions and misunderstandings, and the way blacks and Jews in the US have either sought and resisted assimilation.
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Extra resources for Blacks and Jews in Literary Conversation
It may be significant in this context that, according to James A. McPherson, Malamud actually did not write certain portions of the book, which were composed instead by McPherson himself. )16 In other words, to produce a viable, vital text, Malamud literally imports into his writing culturally different, African American, materials. For the American Jew, Malamud is suggesting, it may already be too late to return to cultural origins. He stands in danger either of telling the story of some other community or of having absolutely nothing whatsoever to say.
It's an extraordinary thing to want by a man his size and shape, given all he hasn't got" (p. 184). Lesser's language will indeed, by the end of the story, turn into fire. The fire, however, will illuminate nothing. And it will realize the promised end in the most apocalyptic, catastrophic terms: thefirenext time. I return to this idea shortly, and to the James Baldwin essay that stands behind Malamud's novel as it stands behind the exchange between Ellison and Howe that Malamud's book calls to mind.
Before even beginning to answer these very loaded questions, let me present all of the relevant Ellison passages from his final rebuttal of Howe. Ellison's culminating judgment of the Jews is not in the least unprepared for in his text: Of course, Irving, I know that you haven't believed in final words for twenty years — not even your own — and I know, too, that the line from Marx to Howe is as complex and as dialectical as that from Wright to Ellison, (p. 127) And the following: Being a Negro American has to do with the memory of slavery and the hope of emancipation and the betrayal by allies.