Confronting Modernity Through the Lens of Tradition
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Penn State University Press
Download PDF (1.9 MB)
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Download PDF (226.3 KB)
Table of Contents
Download PDF (51.5 KB)
Download PDF (41.0 KB)
I would like to thank all those who worked with me for more than thirty-six years to make Studies in American Jewish Literature the great journal it became, and to acknowledge that that work helped prepare me for this volume on Chaim Potok. I wish to thank the contributors to this book, who stayed with me through the years. I also thank all those at the Pennsylvania State Univer-...
Introduction (Daniel Walden)
Download PDF (93.7 KB)
Chaim Potok was a world-class writer and scholar, a Conservative Jew who wrote from and about his tradition and the confl icts between observance and acculturation. With a plain, straightforward style, his novels were set against the moral, spiritual, and intellectual currents of the twentieth century. His characters thought about modernity and wrestled with the core-to-core cul-...
PART 1: The Novels
Download PDF (29.8 KB)
Th e essays in this part of the book approach Chaim Potok’s novels from a scholarly and critical perspective, situating them within the context of Jewish American literature and analyzing the historical and cultural infl uences on Potok’s writing. Th e authors consider the struggles and confl icts in the novels that arise from the confrontation of modernity and traditional Judaism, and ...
Chapter 1: The Chosen: Defining American Judaism (Kathryn McClymond)
Download PDF (145.5 KB)
A version of this essay was previously published as Kathryn McClymond, “Th e Chosen: Defi ning American Judaism,” Shofar 25, no. 2 (2007): 4–23. Used with permission.He’s not like the other Jewish-American novelists being read by the general American public. He’s an entirely new breed. Th e critics won’t know what to do with him.—Anonymous critic quoted in leslie field, “chaim potok and the critics”...
Chapter 2: The Three-Pronged Dialectic: Understanding Conflict in Potok’s Early Fiction (Jessica Lang)
Download PDF (102.1 KB)
While the liveliest and most sharply depicted confl icts in Chaim Potok’s earli-est novels, Th e Chosen (1967) and its sequel, Th e Promise (1969), depend largely on dialectical forces playing themselves out, the more signifi cant struggle introduced in the fi rst novel and brought to a fraught climax in the second is far less dramatically positioned and, consequently, more elusive and diffi cult ...
Chapter 3: Guardians of the Torah: Ambiguity and Antagonism in The Promise (Victoria Aarons)
Download PDF (137.8 KB)
Chaim Potok’s multilayered novel Th e Promise is at once the story of an ado-lescent boy’s descent into psychosis and the stage for an ideological battle within Judaism, a “theological loyalty test” that shakes the very foundation of belief and reaches well beyond the walls of the academy to threaten the lives of those most vulnerable. Th e Promise, published in 1969 and recipient of the ...
Chapter 4: Daedalus Redeemed: Asher Lev’s Journey from Rebellion to Rapprochement (S. Lillian Kremer)
Download PDF (107.7 KB)
Some of the preeminent novelists of earlier centuries and of our time, includ-ing Henry James, Franz Kafk a, Honoré de Balzac, Émile Zola, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, and Bernard Malamud, have explored the aesthetic and ethical reaches of artists’ lives and work. Oft en it is the troubled artist—misunderstood, unap-preciated, and alienated from society—who has garnered the writers’ atten-...
Chapter 5: Davita’s harp: The Silence of Violence and the Limits of the Imagination (Susanne Klingenstein)
Download PDF (164.3 KB)
Davita’s Harp occupies an interesting place in Chaim Potok’s oeuvre. Along with his nonfi ction work Th eo Tobiasse: Artist in Exile (1986), it marks the pre-cise middle of his writing career. Davita’s Harp appeared in 1985, eighteen years aft er Potok’s fi rst novel, Th e Chosen, catapulted the author to fame and seventeen years before his death in 2002. It is his sixth work of fi ction and his ...
Chapter 6: The Book of Lights: A Book of Choices (Sanford E. Marovitz)
Download PDF (144.5 KB)
Two primary sources of illumination radiate at the center of Th e Book of Lights. One is mystical, drawn from the Zohar, or the Book of Splendor: “the Holy One,” “eyn sof,” “the Infi nite,” “the Supreme Cause.” Th e other is physi-cal: the atom bomb, the “Death light.” All lights apart from those two sources in Chaim Potok’s fi ft h novel, including the sun, are fi ery emanations, sym-...
Chapter 7: History and Responsibility: An Assessment of Potok’s “Non-Jewish” I Am the Clay (Nathan P. Devir)
Download PDF (1.7 MB)
I Am the Clay, a fi ctional account of the humanitarian crises unleashed by the chaos of the Korean War (1950–53), was both the fi rst and last novel that Chaim Potok wrote. Potok started the original manuscript in 1956, when he was serving as a U.S. Army chaplain in Korea. Th e fi nished product, which diff ers considerably from the initial manuscript, was fi rst published in Dutch ...
PART 2: Looking Back: Memories of Potok
Download PDF (29.9 KB)
Th e essays in this part of the book refl ect upon Chaim Potok’s life and work from a more personal perspective. Th ese are the remembrances of those who knew him—friends, fellow writers, and his wife, Adena Potok. Th e section opens with three eulogies delivered at a memorial service for Potok in Decem-ber 2002; these essays were printed and distributed for that occasion and have ...
Chapter 8: Choosing the Chosen: A Reappraisal of The Chosen (Hugh Nissenson)
Download PDF (90.3 KB)
During the summer of 1973, just before the Yom Kippur War, Chaim Potok and I attended a conference of Israeli and American writers in Jerusalem. Late one aft ernoon, Chaim and I went for a cup of coff ee at a café on King George Street. An old man, sipping a glass of tea alone at a table by the window, reminded me of Ernest Hemingway’s story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.” ...
Chapter 9: A Zwischenmensch (“Between Person”) in the Cultures (Daniel Walden)
Download PDF (77.5 KB)
Born in 1929 in the Bronx, New York—his father, Benjamin Potok, a Belzer Hasid and his mother, Molly, a descendant of the Hasidic Ryzner dynasty—Chaim Tzvi grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. Attending a cheder, a primary Jewish parochial school, his interest in and talent for painting came to the fore when one summer his ...
Chapter 10: Chaim Potok and the Question of jewish Writing (Jonathan Rosen)
Download PDF (82.1 KB)
In the late 1980s, I was a graduate student in English literature at the University of California, Berkeley. My fi rst summer there I took an intensive German course and made friends with a fellow student, a young man who was studying to be a priest. He had passed all his requirements for the priesthood except for his “fi nal vows,” which would seal his lifelong marriage to the church....
Chapter 11: Chaim Potok: A Literary Biography (Adena Potok)
Download PDF (64.1 KB)
Shortly aft er the child Chaim Potok confi gured letters into words, he became entranced with the world of books and read everything in English and Hebrew he could fi nd. Yiddish was his mother tongue, but it remained for him an oral language. He began to make up stories, which usually took shape at the end of the day aft er all school and other obligations had been ...
Chapter 12: Chaim Potok Is No Longer with Us, but His Lessons Remain (Jane Eisner)
Download PDF (61.1 KB)
On February 17, Chaim Potok, the novelist, scholar, painter and playwright whom I was privileged to call a dear friend, would have turned 80 years old. In the spring of 2002, he and I sat down for a series of interviews in the book-lined library of his home near Philadelphia. My Tuesdays with Chaim, we used By then, brain cancer had noticeably aff ected his speech and thought pat-...
Chapter 13: Adena Potok on I Am the Clay (Nathan P. Devir)
Download PDF (106.6 KB)
Adena Potok kindly met with me in Merion, Pennsylvania, on March 8, 2005, to discuss her late husband, Chaim Potok, and his novel I Am the Clay. Th is text nathan devir: Mrs. Potok, your husband edited or was the author of a sig-nifi cant number of books, reviews, articles, and essays. Th e corpus of critical material on his writing is highly diverse. And yet, aside from mostly luke-...
Chapter 14: Chaim Potok: My Life as a Writer (Chaim Potok)
Download PDF (123.3 KB)
Th ank you very much for the kind invitation to be with you here this evening. I’m especially grateful to the very nice people who hosted me at dinner this Let me try to use the very brief time that we have together to tell you something about the background of the books that I have thus far written. Try to present to you the invisible scaff olding that holds the books together. ...
List of Contributors
Download PDF (53.6 KB)
Download PDF (82.6 KB)
Download PDF (17.4 KB)
...“Daniel Walden’s Chaim Potok: Confronting Modernity Through the Lens of Tradition is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the crucial role played by Chaim Potok’s novels in examining the clash between modernity and faith. This skillfully edited work contains both critical essays and personal renullctions by leading Potok experts. The novelist was a personal friend of Waldennulland this ...
Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2013