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Imagining the child in modern Jewish fiction

Author: Naomi B Sokoloff
Publisher: Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, ©1992.
Series: Johns Hopkins Jewish studies.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
The representation of a child's consciousness in adult literary texts is an unusual creative challenge. Nonetheless, the exercise of imagination required to portray a child's inner life has figured prominently in twentieth-century Jewish fiction. In Imagining the Child in Modern Jewish Fiction, Naomi Sokoloff draws on contemporary narrative theory--especially the work of M.M. Bakhtin--to establish a critical
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Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Sokoloff, Naomi B.
Imagining the child in modern Jewish fiction.
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, ©1992
(OCoLC)645821601
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Naomi B Sokoloff
ISBN: 0801843731 9780801843730
OCLC Number: 25009569
Description: xiv, 234 pages ; 24 cm.
Contents: Representing the voice of the child: Fictive voices: The discourse of childhood ; Narrative voice and the language of the child --
The Shtetl and beyond: Sholem Aleichem --
Mottel, the cantor's son ; Hayim Nahman Bialik --
Aftergrowth ; Henry Roth --
Call it sleep --
The Holocaust and afterward: Jerzy Kosinski --
The painted bird ; Ahron Appelfeld --
The age of wonders ; David Grossman --
See under: love --
Conclusions: The imagination of the child in literary texts ; Others: The silent voice ; A.B. Yehoshua --
A poet's continuing silence ; Cynthia Ozick --
The cannibal galaxy.
Series Title: Johns Hopkins Jewish studies.
Responsibility: Naomi B. Sokoloff.

Abstract:

The representation of a child's consciousness in adult literary texts is an unusual creative challenge. Nonetheless, the exercise of imagination required to portray a child's inner life has figured prominently in twentieth-century Jewish fiction. In Imagining the Child in Modern Jewish Fiction, Naomi Sokoloff draws on contemporary narrative theory--especially the work of M.M. Bakhtin--to establish a critical framework for reading a range of Hebrew, Yiddish, and English texts that focus on young protagonists and the workings of a child's imagination.

The fictional texts Sokoloff considers are not accounts of purely private experience. According to the author, the young character serves as a vehicle for expressing religious, social, and political concerns. The novelty of outlook made possible through attempts to inhabit "the otherness of the child" also offers a powerful literary strategy for exploring Jewish self-conception. To illustrate this dynamic, Sokoloff concentrates on two clusters of thematic materials. First, she discusses works by Sholem Aleichem, H.N.

Bialik, and Henry Roth that "revolve around a shift away from the Torah-centered world of tradition toward more secular, individualistic, and uncertain definitions of Jewishness." She then proceeds to look at works by Jerzy Kosinski, Ahron Appelfeld, and David Grossman that deal with the Holocaust and the "precarious reclamation of Jewish identity" that followed. "Far from being a marginal phenomenon concerned with a negligible "Other," Sokoloff writes, "the representation of the child's thought and inner life is integrally linked to some of the fundamental concerns of modern Jewish fiction: readjustments and reappraisals of faith, responses to catastrophe, and redefinitions of community."

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