One of the things I like best about Ozick as a critic is that she pulls no punches; as she says in "The Boys in the Alley, the Disappearing Readers, and the Novel's Ghostly Twin," "[a] critic is, at bottom, a judge, and judgment ought not to be tentative[.
Evelyn Avery Classroom Issues and Strategies Jewish in style and character types, Bernard Malamud's fiction appeals to a broad range of students who appreciate the author's warmth, ironic humor, and memorable characters.
Above all, they find his blend of the universal and the particular appealing and unique.
A writer who uses fantasy and history, who creates tragic and comic characters, who can write realistically and metaphorically, Malamud will challenge and delight students of varied backgrounds.
Occasionally, "Yiddish" expressions or Jewish ritual will have to be explained, but, for the most part, meaning will be derived from context. Since the effects of suffering are central to Malamud's fiction, students should learn that his Jews symbolize all victims and that his characters cannot be easily categorized as heroes or villains.
Major Themes, Historical Perspectives, and Personal Issues Writing in the last third of the twentieth century, Malamud was aware of social problems: Often, success depends on cooperation between antagonists.
In "The Mourners," for example, landlord and tenant learn from each other's anguish. In "The Magic Barrel," the matchmaker worries about his "fallen" daughter, while the daughter and the rabbinic student are drawn together by their need for love and salvation. If Malamud's readers are sometimes disappointed by ambiguous or unhappy endings, they are often reassured about the existence of decency in a corrupt world.
Malamud's guarded optimism reflects several influences. He cites American authors, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Jamesas guides to moral and spiritual struggles. Like them, Malamud holds individuals responsible for their behavior. He also admires Russian writers, Fyodor Dostoyevski and Anton Chekhov, for their vibrant portrayal of the self versus society.
Although he does not mention other Jewish writers as influences, he concedes "a common fund of Jewish experience and possibly an interest in the ethical approach.
Because Jewish fiction can reflect life's uncertainties and absurdities, it has broad appeal to contemporary readers, who applaud the attempt of ordinary people to determine their fate.
Such themes, however, are evident in non-Jewish literature that Malamud recognized when he described himself, in a interview, as "an American.
Thus, the "schlemiel," a common type in Eastern European Yiddish literature, appears in some American Jewish fiction. Although at times a victim of bad luck, the "shlemiel" compounds his problems by choosing wrongly. Yakov Bok in The Fixerfleeing his Jewish identity, Morris Bober in The Assistantattempting to burn his store down, and Leo Finkle in "The Magic Barrel"insisting that his future wife be young and beautiful, learn to revise their values, reject assimilation, materialism, and conformity; and embrace sacrifice and spirituality.
Trapped in depressing, even dangerous settings, in cramped, deteriorating stores, suffocating apartments, condemned buildings, in a nation, Russia, where Jews are at risk everywhere, Malamud's characters are both archetypal Jews and suffering humanity.
Malamud's awareness of Jewish pain is best portrayed in The Fixer, a novel of extreme anti-Semitism in Tzarist Russia, which for many critics evokes the Holocaust.
Although a serious writer, Malamud uses humor to underscore the preposterous, to highlight grief, and to instruct readers.Critical Essays on Bernard Malamud $ Quantity. Add to cart. Category: Uncategorized.
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In Bernard Malamud’s short story "The Mourners", two old Jews, a landlord and tenant battling over a cheap apartment, are transformed from arch-enemies into companions in grief, as their common sorrows suddenly transcend their bitter antagonism. When novelist and short story writer Bernard Malamud gained international recognition for The Assistant and A New Life, many critics assigned him a role as a chronicler of the Jewish tradition.
But as Joyce and Leslie Field, the editors of this book, point out, Malamud's works have a much broader range. Malamud, Bernard, Malamud, Bernard Malamud, Bernard, letterkundige, Маламуд, Бернард, מלמוד, ברנרד, The Fiction of Bernard Malamud / edited by Richard Astro and Jackson J.
Benson. In a collection that includes new essays written explicitly for this volume, one of our sharpest and most influential critics confronts the past, present, and future of literary culture.