FIEDLER ON THE ROOF

ESSAYS ON LITERATURE AND JEWISH IDENTITY

Elegiac reevaluation by Fiedler, now 70-plus years old, of what it means to be a ``terminal'' Jew, a nonbeliever at the close of a 4,000-year line of Jewish forebears, and how that colors the essays on Jewish-American (Isaac Bashevis Singer) and American-Jewish (Bellow, Malamud, Mailer) authors he's been writing for the past ten years. This is not the firebreathing Fiedler of Love and Death in the American Novel and No! in Thunder, but he does have some fresh ideas in the 12 essays, which appeared originally in journals ranging from Psychology Today to Journal of Modern Literature. All are fairly subjective, tying into his Jewish background, and one—''In Every Generation: A Meditation on Two Holocausts''—is his most intimate writing since 1970's Being Busted. All his European relatives died in the Holocaust. Fiedler himself has eight children, not one of whom is married to a Jew or thinks of himself as Jewish, and his grandchildren have even less idea of their Jewish background—all of which Fiedler views as a ``Silent Holocaust.'' Forty years ago he was the enfant terrible of American criticism, but then, he says, he allowed gentiles—playing up to their post-Holocaust feelings—to give him academic posts that gradually tamed his fire. ``I have shamelessly played the role in which I have been cast, becoming a literary Fiedler on the roof of academe.'' He takes credit for boosting the postwar Jewish literary Mafia (Bellow, Roth, Malamud), now thinks it about burned out and he no longer reads their books. His most brilliant pages speak of Leopold Bloom, the first warm, dark, nonthreatening Jew in Western literature: ``I...had myself to become Bloom before I could understand Ulysses.'' He also has new ideas about the Book of Job, and goes on to show how the Grail Knight, Galahad, fathered by Lancelot with a Jewess, was Jewish, and how the legend itself descends from Joseph of Arimathea, who ran off with Christ's cup after the Last Supper. Passages of academese balanced by open-heart surgery.

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-87923-859-3

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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