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Kamran Scot Aghaie, Chair CAL 528 | 204 W 21st St F9400 | Austin, TX 78712-1029 • 512-471-3881

Fall 2003

MES 325 • ISRAELI AND AMERICAN-JEWISH FICTION-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39285 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
par 204
ADAM ZACHARY NEWTON

Course Description

Philip Roth (b. 1933, Weehauken, NJ) recently remarked that the two most important bodies of 20th century American should be credited to William Faulkner and Saul Bellow. Roth’s own literary reputation (about the only prize he has yet to win is the Nobel) defines itself in part in tensed relation to Bellow’s (b. 1913, Lachine, Quebec), a Nobel Laureate and his senior by twenty years. Bellow himself has referred to Israeli novelist A. B. Yehoshua (b. 1936, Jerusalem) as “world class” (though the American writer to whom Yehoshua has been most often compared—for example, by the literary critic Harold Bloom, famous for his theory that strong poets always revise their immediate forbears—is William Faulkner). David Grossman (b. 1954, Jerusalem) is the preeminent Joseph-figure to the three generations of Israeli writers preceding him. And while the Sephardic Yehoshua is typically called Israel’s greatest novelist, Ashkenazi Grossman has made a name for himself as both lineal heir to a modernist Hebrew literary tradition and self-conscious sojourner in the “Egypt” of international postmodernism. A “tensed relation” might therefore be said to connect the two Israeli novelists, too, as one gal hadash (new wave) gets supplanted by another. While not strictly “Bloomian” in its approach, this course will explore the intriguing cross-hatching that results when these four premier Jewish writers of fiction are discussed in the same breath…or semester. Are they indeed “Jewish writers of fiction” or rather “writers of Jewish fiction (whatever that is)?” How important is this question of inter-generational “priority?” What are the cultural politics that inform these two 20th century literary traditions, and which filiations can be drawn between the Israeli and American cultural “scenes?” These and other questions will shape our inquiry about two of America’s and two of Israel’s greatest living prose writers.

Grading Policy

Three short papers and a final exam (IDs): 60% Participation: 40%

Texts

Saul Bellow, Herzog Henderson the Rain King Humoldt’s Gift Philip Roth, American Pastoral The Human Stain Operation Shylock A.B. Yehoshua, Mr. Mani Five Seasons David Grossman, The Book of Intimate Grammar See: Under Love

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