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A House of Words: Jewish Writing, Identity, and Memory by Norman Ravvin

By Norman Ravvin

Concentrating on the way in which Jewish background - relatively the Holocaust - and culture tell postwar Canadian and American Jewish literature, this article bargains readings of the works of influential writers akin to Saul Bellow, Leonard Cohen, Eli Mandel, Mordecai Richler, Chava Rosenfarb, Philip Roth and Nathaneal West. Norman Ravvin highlights the worries that those disparate writers proportion as Jewish writers in addition to locations their paintings within the context of the wider traditions of mulitculturalism, postcolonial writing, and demanding conception.

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Extra info for A House of Words: Jewish Writing, Identity, and Memory

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6 It is this suspicion that has led contemporary architects to reject what they judge to be the exhausted forms of their predecessors: nineteenth-century historical facades bearing tableaux of national and mythic heroes; and the neoclassicism exemplified by public buildings whose style, borrowed from Revolutionary France and ancient Greece, promotes "the ideal of universal laws ... science, art, government and justice" (Muschamp 30). After the shock of this century's killing fields these public myths no longer thrill us, and architects have begun to find inspiration for their buildings in "narratives which resonate with the history of a specific place" (Shubert 44) and which derive their inspiration from "personal stories grounded in life" (Perez-Gomez 14).

Calls "ordinary eternal machinery" (35). His desire for clarity and power takes him to Ottawa, where he sits as a member of Parliament and dreams of bringing to fruition "the vastest dream of [his] generation ... to be a magician" (175). As the novel progresses, F. falls more and more into the role of a philosopher-king who knows all too well that his vision is a corrupt failure. As he looks back over his efforts at teaching Edith and the narrator to "embody the best" of his "longings," he admits, "I didn't suspect the pettiness of my dream" (164, 175).

Stephen Scobie echoes this notion in his Leonard Cohen, though he admits to a certain discomfort with reading "the whole of Beautiful Losers as ... an allegory of Canadian society" (113). Still, he too writes around the encounter with Hitler, though he does mention it, calling it "the novel's most extreme sexual scene" (107) and "an outrageous parody of all the conventions of 'the orgy'" (109). Scobie draws no direct conclusions about Cohen's use of Holocaust imagery, but concentrates instead on how the section develops such themes as sexual exploration and transcendence (no).

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