In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

59 REVIEWS Edgar Rosenberg. FROM SHYLOCK TO SVENGALI; JEWISH STEREOTYPES IN ENGLISH LITERATURE, Stanford, CaI.: Stanford U P, I960» $6.50 Edgar Rosenberg's book is an intelligent study of the image of the Jew in the fiction of a number of 19th-century English writers. Before approaching his main subject, Mr. Rosenberg in Part One discusses the origins of the two stereotypes, "the Jew-VMiain" and "the Saintly Jew," and analyzes their use in earlier literature . Having described the prototypes, the author in Part Two discusses the ways in which the stereotypes appear in 19th-century English fiction. Starting with Sir Walter Scott., whose IVANHOE and THE SURGEON'S DAUGHTER he treats in detail, Mr, Rosenberg discloses now the stereotypes are found in Dickens, Trollope, Bulwer-Lytton, and George Eliot, among others» He documents Scott's use of the Jew as comic miser as well as his notable use of the Jew's Daughter. He shows that the portrayal of Isaac in IVANHOE is simply an undating of Shakespeare's Shylock, with the important addition of an historical explanation for Isaac's character, an explanation which helps to make Isaac's vices more palatable. Mr. Rosenberg has an extended treatment of the Jew-villain as he appears in the person of Fagin in Dickens' OLIVER TWIST, but the material has been handled repeatedly by previous scholars and it lacks the freshness of his account of "The Jew as Parasite" as found in Trollope's THE WAY WE LIVE NOW and Bulwer's MY NOVEL, Referring to historical circumstances which indicated that the place of the Jew in English society had changed sufficiently so that the stereotype of the Jew-as-bogey as used by Dickens was, during the second half of the 19th century, no longer viable for the more realistic novelists, Mr. Rosenberg shows how such writers as Trollope and Bulwer shifted the existing stereotype and "stressed instead the motif of economic cupidity which had co-existed with the bogey motif from Biblical times." His discussion of Trollope and Bulwer is both fresh and fascinating» Mr» Rosenberg then treats the revival of the good Jew of Cumberland and Maria Edgeworth in George Eliot's DANIEL DERONDA (I876). Having shown how Dickens pictures "the Jew's sensational vices" and Trollope his "domestic and credible sins." Mr. Rosenberg discusses the way in which George Eliot "celebrates his domestic virtues." Commenting upon how close she came to creating what he calls "the myth of the Jew as political man, as social prophet and Isaiah reborn. . . ," he laments that she had not been able to keep her Jewish character in this novel from deteriorating into talking puppets. Agreeing with Henry James and those later critics who have insisted that the "Jewish half" of DANIEL DERONDA is much inferior to the part of the novel that deals with Gwendolen Harleth, he concludes that George Eliot's polemical intention got in the way of her accomplishment as a novelist. Mr. Rosenberg devotes Part Three to an analysis of the myth of the Wandering Jew, chiefly as it appears in English fiction between Lewis' THE MONK (1794) and Du Maurier's TRILBY (1894), in which the Wandering Jew becomes that "Victorian bogey-hypnotist," Svengali. Before his chapter on Du Maurier's novels, the author details the evolution of the myth of the Wandering Jew from its 13thcentury antecedents to its use in THE MONK and in Godwin's ST. LEON and its transformation in Bulwer's ZANONI. 60 The final chapter discusses the ways in which a number of minor novels treat the Jew, showing what the Jew looked like in late-Victorian English fiction. Concluding that "the image of the Jew in English literature has been a depressingly uniform and static phenomenon, and that the changes and variations which were struck upon it in the course of the centuries fade into relative insignificance in the face of its monumental durability." Mr. Rosenberg declares that the convention of the Jew-villain has been more successful and more persistent than that of the saintly Jew, and, in fact, that we encounter it today in the poetry of T. S. Eliot as well as in the novels...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 59-60
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.