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

140 SHOFAR Winter 1996 Vol. 14, No.2 quotation marks, may alienate some readers at first. However, one quickly gets accustomed to Cheyette's style and critical vocabulary, and the good introductions and conclusions to each chapter should help readers significantly in making their way through a complex and detailed argument. Americans could use an earlier explanation of the Marconi scandal that figures in the discussion of several writers, and any explanation at all of the often referred to "Eastern question," historical points that are assumed to be well known to English readers. But this is a minor objection. Constructions of 'the Jew' in English Literature and Society will frustrate those looking for clearcut distinctions between "good guys" and "bad guys" on the literature syllabus. Cheyette's insistence on explaining the most minute variations in a writer's approach leads at times to a sense that there is no one "take" on each author-and that is precisely his point. However, careful as Cheyette is to distinguish among the kinds and qualities of the "semitisms" he depicts, one comes away from this book with the sense of an English nation that was not only ambivalent about the Jews in its midst but in many ways also intensely hostile to them. Cheyette's delineation of this complex picture makes the book essential reading for anyone interested in the place ofJews in English literature and, indeed, in modern English culture and society. Meri-Jane Rochelson Department of English Florida International University Anti-Semitism in America, by Leonard Dinnerstein. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. 369 pp. $25.00. It is easy, in this age of inflammatory rhetoric, increasing poverty, and omnipresent anger, to write off antisemitism as a phenomenon that surges only during moments of cataclysmic social tension. Leonard Dinnerstein knows better. His superb Anti-Semitism in America goes directly to the root of the problem, Christian hostility towards Jews, and shows how "the base of deeply ingrained and culn,rally accepted Christian teachings" explains the long-term existence of this prejudice. Yet Dinnerstein's historical and theoretical conviction about the underpinnings of antisemitism does not blind him. His judicious approach allows him to see the downward trend in antisemitism in the United States. Furthermore, Dinnerstein, a professor of history at the University of Arizona, is a Book Reviews 141 painstakingly careful scholar: he refuses to fall into the trap of cataloging incidents of Jew-hatred and is careful to examine the reactions to antisemitism by both Jews and non-Jews. The focus of Anti-Semitism in America is on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but the short chapters on British America and the early years of the republic provide a solid foundation for readers. Dinnerstein leaves little doubt that the radical transition from colony to nation did not cause an equally momentous shift in attitudes towards Jews, implanting an antisemitic society and culture in the United States long before the masses of European Jews began to arrive. At the same time, Dinnerstein does not shy away from what are perhaps the two most controversial issues ofour time: antisemitism amongAfrican-Americans and the insistence by many Jewish communal leaders that antisemitism is as prevalent now as it was prior to World War II. Following World War II, Dinnerstein, argues, there was a marked decrease in prejudice against Jews. Yet the diminishing outward manifestations of antisemitism in most of the United States never held true in the southern states. Following the 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision, numerous racist organizations were established that associated Jews with racial integration, linked antisemitism and hatred of African-Americans, and eventually ordered the bombing of synagogues throughout the region. The special nature of Southern antisemitism leads Dinnerstein to explore carefully what is certain to be seen as the most provocative aspect ofAnti-Semitism in America: African-American attitudes towards Jews from 1830 to the present. Arguing that African-American culture is at least partially imbued with Protestant fundamentalist culture, Dinnerstein suggests that "the basis for black antisemitism" must not be exclusively linked to social, educational, or political differentials with non-blacks. Such claims demand extensive documentation, and the author provides it by analyzing everything...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 140-142
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.