Abstract

In "Eli, the Fanatic" (1959), Philip Roth creates a character who is both a Holocaust survivor and an ultra-Orthodox Jew. Representing some essential concept of Jewishness, the character motivates the American Jew Eli to accept his legacy as Jew and to vow to bequeath it to his newborn son, an action that causes his neighbors to regard him as a fanatic. Whereas Jewish American readers have tended to accept Roth's allegory, Israeli Jewish students have resisted the conflation of the two aspects of Jewish identity, in particular the sentimentalizing of the ultra-Orthodox figure. The different readings of this popular story constitute a classic example of how reception is shaped by the experience of interpretive communities.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3311
Print ISSN
0272-9601
Pages
pp. 103-112
Launched on MUSE
2001-01-01
Open Access
No
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