By Norman Ravvin
Concentrating on the best way Jewish background - really the Holocaust - and culture tell postwar Canadian and American Jewish literature, this article deals readings of the works of influential writers resembling Saul Bellow, Leonard Cohen, Eli Mandel, Mordecai Richler, Chava Rosenfarb, Philip Roth and Nathaneal West. Norman Ravvin highlights the troubles that those disparate writers proportion as Jewish writers in addition to areas their paintings within the context of the wider traditions of mulitculturalism, postcolonial writing, and significant concept.
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Additional info for A House of Words: Jewish Writing, Identity, and Memory
Acknowledges the failure of his pursuit of spiritual and sexual release most directly in his "Long Letter" describing his "Argentine vacation hotel week-end shack-up with Edith" (175). Here he addresses the narrator as his "Dear Friend" (170) and promises, "I am going to set you straight on everything" (173). Speaking as a decadent and world-weary cynic, F. admits that action and honest engagement with political violence have always been beyond him: I will confess that I never saw the Quebec Revolution clearly, even at the time of my parliamentary disgrace.
With such emphasis, critics have sanitized the book and robbed it of its most incendiary and trenchant critique. The interpretations that have limited our reading of Beautiful Losers have almost uniformly ignored the section portraying a rather sordid encounter with Hitler. If we give this section its due weight, Cohen's novel can be seen as a provocative examination of the role of the Holocaust in contemporary culture and as a call to heed the lessons of the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews.
St. Urbairis Horseman is shot through with references to Mengele, Auschwitz, Dachau, and anti-Semitism, yet this thematic material is treated on an emotional and personal level - often with more than a touch of black comedy - rather than from a philosophical or theological perspective. The hero in Jake's fantasies of revenge is his elusive cousin Joey, whom he remembers as a tough and glamorous figure from his boyhood on St Urbain Street in Montreal. To relieve his feelings of guilt for having settled for success as a film director in London, Jake worships the memory of Joey as an avenging "Horseman" who is relentless in his pursuit of Nazis such as Mengele.