The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is Mordecai Richler’s most popular and critically acclaimed work of fiction, written early in his career. Upon its publication in 1959, the novel created a sensation in Canada’s literary world because of its explicit language, controversial thematic content, and hilarious, even bawdy, form of satire. At the time, the work was reviled as coarse and cynical, but it was praised as well for rejuvenating the Canadian comic novel. In terms of Richler’s literary career and in the development of Canadian literature the book is considered a seminal work for its examination of aspects of Jewish life that are a source of value and a focus of trenchant criticism.
The novel is divided into four parts and traces Duddy’s transition into independent adulthood over a period of several years. Except for one flashback, the narrative is linear and uncomplicated and includes several set pieces which detail specific events that become the targets of Richler’s satire.
In many ways, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz embodies the major concerns that Richler had focused upon throughout his writing career. He wished to recapture a truthful vision of his past, especially his youth in the St. Urbain community. He also attempted to make a case for the ostensibly unsympathetic person. Finally, Richler had regarded the moral basis of his works as the most important aspect of his task as a writer, and he had strived to use his skill as a satirist for this purpose.
Richler uses a well-known form of fiction, the bildungsroman (novel of formation) to trace Duddy’s development from...
(The entire section is 677 words.)