Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 389
Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March (1953) concerns the title character, a young Jewish American in a working-class Chicago neighborhood, who is forced to embark upon a number of odd jobs during the Great Depression. Despite all of his negative experiences, Augie fights to remain optimistic and attempts to make sense of the world by seeking a worthwhile fate.
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Since the Holocaust, a number of prominent Catholic and Protestant religious leaders have made public statements expressing remorse at the Christian mistreatment of Jews and have also expressed the desire to recognize the validity of Judaism. Christianity in Jewish Terms (2000), a collection of essays by Tikva Frymer-Kensky and more than thirty other Jewish and Christian scholars, opens a dialogue about the similarities and differences between the two faiths.
The essays in Richard J. Israel’s The Kosher Pig: And Other Curiosities of Modern Jewish Life (1993) explore the difficulty of adhering to traditional Jewish beliefs and practices in a modern world. Israel explores his many topics with humor and insight and offers such eclectic tips as how to survive a Yom Kippur fast with the least amount of discomfort and how to keep a yarmulke—or skullcap—on a bald head.
In Bernard Malamud’s The Assistant (1957), Frankie Alpine, an Italian-American street thug, gets a job working for a humble Jewish-American grocer, Morris Bober. Morris cannot modernize his traditional Jewish beliefs, even though his inability to change threatens his family’s economic survival. Meanwhile, Frankie falls in love with Morris’s daughter and is forced to question his own moral and religious beliefs.
In Roth’s novel The Ghost Writer (1979), Nathan Zuckerman is a young Jewish-American author who is in love with the literary classics. Zuckerman’s father does not see the value in his son’s story, which portrays Jews in a negative fashion, and Zuckerman seeks out his literary idol, E. I. Lonoff, for guidance. During an evening at Lonoff’s rural home, Zuckerman explores the complex nature of a writer’s moral responsibility to both art and society.
In Reading Myself and Others (1975), Roth collects a number of his previously published articles and essays. These include commentary on his works, his reasons for writing about Jews in ways that are sometimes viewed as disparaging by members of the Jewish community, and various aspects of Roth’s life.