Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The Williamsburg Trilogy was at first largely ignored. According to Fuchs, Summer in Williamsburg and Homage to Blenholt each sold only four hundred copies, and Low Company sold only twelve hundred. Only after the three novels were published did Fuchs conceive of them as a trilogy. In 1961, they were reissued under one cover; Fuchs then began to get critical recognition. When Fuchs later went to Hollywood to write movie scripts, one of the movies he wrote was The Gangster (1947), based on Low Company.

Fuchs is sometimes compared to Nathanael West, especially in Day of the Locust (1939), West’s chronicle of Hollywood in the 1930’s, in which West focuses on the difference between humanity’s possibilities and humanity’s actualities. In style, too, the trilogy is compared to West’s work, since both tend to be surrealistic, especially Low Company, with its nightmarish vision.

Fuchs’s novels focus on relatively poor, secularized Jews living in New York City. Thus, they resemble works like Michael Gold’s Jews Without Money (1930) and Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep (1934), although Fuchs apparently shares none of the left-wing political concerns of Roth and Gold. Yet like Roth’s and Gold’s works, the trilogy has been labeled basically as a work of the Great Depression.