Marc Chagall Critical Context - Essay (Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Howard Greenfeld

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Greenfeld founded Orion Press, which published, among other books, an English edition of Chagall’s autobiography, My Life, which was originally translated by Bella as Ma vie (1931) from Chagall’s Russian. He has also edited and translated many books. In this biography, Greenfeld has attempted to pass on his own enthusiasm for Chagall to young readers, keeping the details to a minimum and stressing Chagall’s accomplishments and genius.

The resulting, extremely positive biography, while not falsifying the facts, has left out the critical commentary and evenhanded treatment necessary for a serious, adult audience. Instead, the author presents an attractive introduction to the artist in an attempt to entice young readers into an interest in and further study of Chagall. In this quest, the book is a successful one. Young readers will be attracted to the sincerity of the author, and Chagall’s childlike dream world, filled with the elements of folktale, is an ideal one for bringing children into the realm of modern art. This book serves its purpose as an excellent introduction to both Chagall and modern art. Critics gave the book positive reviews, and it received the Charles W. Follett Award for Worthy Contributions to Literature for Young People.