Amy Levy Criticism - Essay

The Literary World (review date 1889)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of The Romance of a Shop and Reuben Sachs, in The Literary World, Vol. XX, No. 8, April 13, 1889, p. 123.

[In the following review, the anonymous critic offers a favorable assessment of Levy's novels The Romance of a Shop and Reuben Sachs.]

The critic who takes up a new novel, by a new and unknown writer, in these days when the number of novels is legion, may be forgiven if he does not look forward to much pleasure from its perusal. There is such a painful amount of "meritorious mediocrity" in print today that there are nine chances out of ten against the new novel being worth reading. But this wearisome sameness, this monotonous...

(The entire section is 793 words.)

E. K. Chambers (essay date 1892)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Poetry and Pessimism," in The Westminster Review, Vol. CXXXVIII, July-December, 1892, pp. 366-76.

[In the following assessment of Levy's career. Chambers places Levy in the context of late nineteenth-century literary pessimism.]

In the mind of a student of humanity, if he be also a reader of books, intellectual problems are apt to crystallise around individual personalities. A single poet, a single novelist, comes to stand to him for a whole complex of thought, a web of vague ideas and tendencies which are elsewhere, as we say, in the air, but which first become palpable when compelled by an artist's hand into the rigidity of the written word. This is...

(The entire section is 5030 words.)

Brian Glanville (essay date 1960)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Anglo-Jewish Writer," in Encounter, Vol. XIV, No. 2, February, 1960, pp. 62-4.

[In the following essay, Glanville views Levy's works as a product of Anglo-Jewish alienation.]

There are Anglo-Jewish writers; there is no such thing as Anglo-Jewish writing. As for the writers, the two things that strike one about them are their scarcity, and their relative lack of distinction. The great bulk of Anglo-Jewry shares with American Jewry its origins in Eastern Europe, where a mass exodus began after the passing of the Russian May Laws, in 1881. But where American Jewry has produced an astonishing crop of writers and poets—Saul Bellow, Lionel Trilling, Karl...

(The entire section is 2005 words.)

Edward Wagenknecht (essay date 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Amy Levy," in Daughters of the Covenant: Portraits of Six Jewish Women, Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1983, pp. 55-93.

[In the following essay, Wagenknecht provides a survey of Levy's life and career, characterizing her as "a child, albeit a belated, disappointed, and disillusioned child, of the Romantic Age."]

Like many Americans, I first encountered the name of Amy Levy in the fine poem "Broken Music" Thomas Bailey Aldrich wrote about her after her tragic death.

A note
All out of tune in this world's instrument.
AMY LEVY

I know...

(The entire section is 13194 words.)

Deborah Epstein Nord (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "'Neither Pairs nor Odd': Female Community in Late Nineteenth-Century London," in Signs, Vol. 15, No. 4, Summer, 1990, pp. 733-54.

[In the essay below, Nord explores how Levy's poetry and fiction reflect the social realities of London in the 1880s.]

[Amy Levy] dealt the most directly with her single state and her urban existence; she was also the most overtly ambivalent about the sexual identification of her public persona. Her Jewishness made her more thoroughly and permanently an outsider in English society than either [Beatrice] Webb or [Margaret] Harkness: theirs was at least in part a willed marginality; Levy's was inherited and indelible. Still, in her...

(The entire section is 2747 words.)

Melvyn New (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to The Complete Novels and Selected Writings of Amy Levy, 1861-1889, edited by Melvyn New, University Press of Florida, 1993, pp. 1-52.

[In the following essay, New provides an overview of Levy's life and writings, maintaining that Levy is impressive for "the depth of her commitments, the versatility of her talents, the breadth of her learning."]

Amy Levy was born in Clapham in 1861 and died by charcoal gas inhalation in 1889, two months before her twenty-eighth birthday. In taking her own life, she not only raised numerous questions about the despairs of an educated Jewish woman in late Victorian England but also put an end to a promising literary...

(The entire section is 19630 words.)

Linda Hunt (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Amy Levy and the 'Jewish Novel': Representing Jewish Life in the Victorian Period," in Studies in the Novel, Vol. XXVI, No. 3, Fall, 1994, pp. 235-53.

[In the following essay, Hunt examines Levy's novel Reuben Sachs as a critique of prevailing representations of Jewish life in Victorian literature.]

In the last month of 1888 Macmillan brought out what was to become a controversial novel within the Jewish community on both sides of the Atlantic. Amy Levy, a twenty-seven-year-old Jewish woman who had already made something of a name for herself as a writer of poetry, non-fictional prose, and fiction, was the author of this book, Reuben...

(The entire section is 8923 words.)