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Writing the Diaspora : a bibliography and critical commentary on post-Shoah English-language fiction in Australia, South Africa, and Canada Hart, Alexander


In the aftermath of the Shoah (Holocaust)—the mass murder of 6,000,000 Jews—Jean-Paul Sartre wrote Reflexions sur la Question Juive (1946), in which he concluded that the fate of the Jews, the fate of the individual non-Jew, and the fate of the entire world are inextricably and reciprocally intertwined. Building on Sartre's perception, Portrait of a Jew (1962) and The Liberation of the Jew (1966) describe what the author, Albert Memmi, terms "the universal Jewish fate": that of being the paradigmatic "colonized" Other—insofar as the Jews are a particularly oppressed minority, that is, their marginalization epitomizes the fate of all humanity. Further, Memmi argues both that "to be a Jewish writer is ... to express the Jewish fate" and that a "true Jewish literature" is necessarily one which revolts against the imposition and acceptance of this fate. Sartre's and Memmi's insights posit that Jewish consciousness acts upon both national and world consciousness. Memmi suggests that one means of expressing the Jewish consciousness is through literature. In their imaginative interpretations of the post-Shoah interconnections between the Jew, the nation, and the world, modern Jewish fiction writers of the Diaspora (dispersion) —at least those whose work foregrounds tropes of Jewish sensibility, incorporating Jewish characters and themes—often delineate a world which, in the aftermath of Auschwitz, is socially and existentially even more precarious than it was before the war. This study examines post-Shoah Jewish consciousness and its relation to national/world consciousness,as represented in the English-language Jewish fiction of Australia, South Africa, and Canada, Commonwealth countries whose diverse Jewish literatures have been overshadowed by the predominant English-language Jewish literary culture of the U.S.A. The structure of this study is bipartite. Part B is an indexed Bibliography enumerating primary works by Jewish prose fiction writers of Australia, Canada, and South Africa. Part A is a critical commentary on Part B. The Introduction (Chapter 1) outlines the theoretical bases for the study. The three following chapters scrutinize Jewish Australian (Chapter 2), Jewish South African (Chapter 3), and Jewish Canadian (Chapter 4) fiction. Among the writers considered are Australians B.N. Jubal, Judah Waten, David Martin, Morris Lurie, Serge Liberman, and Lily Brett; South Africans Nadine Gordimer, Dan Jacobson, Jillian Becker, Antony Sher, and Rose Zwi; and Canadians Henry Kreisel, A.M. Klein, Adele Wiseman, Mordecai Richler, and Robert Majzels. Each of these three chapters follows a similar format: a description of the origin, history, and demography of the Jewish community; an outline of the important pre-World War II Jewish fiction writers and their work; an examination of representative post-Shoah works; and concluding remarks about the ways in which the works under consideration here contest and revise both the canons of nation and national literature and the very concepts of nation, canon, and canon-making. An Epilogue (Chapter 5) contextualizes the thematic patterns common to the Jewish fiction of the three countries and suggests ways in which this fiction can be located within the larger framework of Jewish Literature.

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