CREATORS AND DISTURBERS: Reminiscences of Jewish Intellectuals of New York by Bernard & Ernest Goldstein Rosenberg

CREATORS AND DISTURBERS: Reminiscences of Jewish Intellectuals of New York

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Over a number of years the authors interviewed 24 New York/Jewish intellectuals (or ""part-time intellectuals"")--and have translated those conversations into 24 crisp, first-person monologues. Some of the interviewees merely seem to be responding to a set of questions apparently put to one and all: the recurring subjects are Judaism (Orthodox and otherwise), Zionism, the Holocaust, Hannah Arendt, why-you-live-in-New-York, black/Jewish tensions, anti-Semitism, and the concept of Jewish ""marginality."" But many of the speakers merely tell the stories of their lives--and the perspectives are richly varied. ""Yip"" Harburg and Harold Clurman (two of several interviewees who've recently died) chat about their theater lives--though Clurman (unlike Harburg) is vigorously interested in the Jewishness-vs.-Americanism question. The political spectrum is nicely covered--from Midge Decter to Irving Howe to Henry Pachter. The labor movement is represented by Gus Tyler of the ILGWU as well as Victor Gotbaum--while a half-dozen of the speakers zero in on the divisive 1968 teachers' strike. Dan Morgenstern, by contrast, emphasizes the ""interethnic quality of jazz""; Paul Goodman's architect-brother Percival makes fetching fraternal comparisons; Grace Paley and the late Soma Morgenstern offer the most evocative (poles-apart) glimpses of the N.Y. writer's-life; plus scholars, rabbis, and radical psychoanalyst Joel Kovel too--along with, inevitably, Alfred Kazin (New York Jew). True, as the authors' rambling introduction makes clear, there are no firm conclusions to be drawn here. And Howe's A Margin of Hope (above) is a far better introduction to most of the worlds touched on. But, for specializing browsers: a zesty assortment of voices and issues.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1982
Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press