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174 REVIEWS 1. Israel Zangwill Elsie Bonita Adams. Israel Zangwill. New York: Twayne Publishers, English Authors Series No. 121, 1971. $4.95. Israel Zangwill was the child of Latvian-Polish immigrants in London's Whitechapel slum and ghetto. At an early age he began to write of the Jewish milieu which he knew so well and, after achieving an honors degree at the University of London in 1884, turned to literary journalism . An abundant production of plays and playlets brought Zangwill to the attention of literary contemporaries and editors. His King of the Schnorrers and Dreamers of the Ghetto were minor classics which merited Zangwill renown during the I890* s. Meanwhile, he had committed himself to Theodor Herzl's Zionism, only to break with the Zionists over their insistence on Palestine as the only Jewish national home. Zangwill refused to wait for Palestine and was willing to settle for such substitutes as Uganda. The life of Zangwill was marked by an almost single-minded dedication to Judaism which was more pragmatic than abstract. Thus, for twenty years (I905-I925) he gave himself to his creation, the Jewish Territorial Organization and the story of his trials and tribulations on behalf of ITO is something which belongs to the history of British Judaism in the twentieth century. A very full life came to an end in I926, when Zangwill died plagued by a sense of failure and frustration. Zangwill deserves a good critical study because, as Professor Adams suggests, his work still has "emotive power and relevance to life." A realization of the worth and message of Zangwill has inspired a "renaissance in Zangwill scholarship" during the last decade which has resulted in biographies by Joseph Leftwich and Maurice Wohlgelernter and now Mrs. Adams· very perceptive study. She Was quite correct in relying on Zangwill himself for his ideas and on her own estimate of his literary value. Organizing the study in chapters which deal with the "types of literature" Zangwill produced is a good device for literary criticism and helps the scholar to avoid over-estimating the subject 's literary work. Thus, while emphasizing the importance of Zangwill·s art in the literary life of Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain, Mrs. Adams has not made more of Zangwill than he deserves. Indeed, she points out that Zangwill·s "plays and essays of the twentieth century, though interesting, never rose to the level of the ghetto fiction of the 1890's." Yet, there is much in Bernard Malamud and Saul Bellow which reminds one of Zangwill. Sound judgements, a felicitious style, and a very useful annotated bibliography make this study of Zangwill a first-rate contribution to the TEAS series. Georgia State University Joseph 0. Baylen ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
p. 174
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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