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Fiedler on the Roof - SAVE 50%!

Fiedler on the Roof - SAVE 50%!

Essays on Literature and Jewish Identity

by Leslie Fiedler

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Product Details


ISBN: 978-0-87923-859-9
Pages: 208
Size: 5.8" x 8.4"
Published: October 1994
ISBN: 978-0-87923-949-7
Pages: 208
Size: 5.5" x 8.2"
Published: October 1994
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Leslie Fiedler, author of such exciting and essential works of criticism as Love and Death in the American Novel, Waiting for the End, Freaks, and What was Literature?, here assembles twelve vibrant essays. Those who have grown accustomed to his iconoclastic and eye-opening assaults on established views of culture will be pleased to find that the elder sage of these essays is still pushy and personal, refusing received dogma and offering fresh insight in his unique voice and unmistakable style.

The exhilarating range of Fiedler's mind is evident, both within each piece and throughout the book, but Fiedler on the Roof is not simply a fascinating miscellany. A common theme emerges, sometimes obliquely, sometimes grandly, as the book unfolds: the paradox of Jewish consciousness and culture. Always a conscience-pricking thorn in the side of Christianity, the Jews now much confront, especially in America, the perplexity of their place in an increasingly "post-Jewish" world.

This topic has been a crucial one for Fiedler, and modern features of it are presented in his meaty examinations of books by James Joyce, Isaac Bashevis Singer, William Styron, and Bernard Malamud, among others. Historical aspects of the sticky cultural interactions between Christianity and Judaism are given extended treatment in two brilliant excavations of older literature: "Why is the Grail Knight Jewish?" and "A Meditation on the Book of Job." And finally, personal, literary, religious, and political history are moving blended in the haunting opening and closing essays: "The Roots of Anti-Semitism: A View from Italy" and "In Every Generation: A Meditation on the Two Holocausts."

Here is a trenchant and lively proponent of humane letters, the "apostle to the gentiles," at the height of his career. Fiedler on the Roof looks back on, and sums up, some of the vital ideas and concerns from a lifetime of cultural meditation and passionate engagement. It again proclaims Fiedler's ability to make us look again at, and to re-evaluate, our common cultural assumptions.

Leslie Fiedler
Leslie Fiedler was born in New Jersey and educated at New York University and the University of Wisconsin. He was politically active from a young age; he made speeches on a soapbox on Bergen Street while in high school, joined the Young Communist League in college, and aligned himself with Trotskyism as a graduate student. After World War II, during which he learned and translated Japanese for the Navy, Fiedler received a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, where he became involved in the Harvard Poetry Society. He published his first critical work during his time at Harvard. In the following years, Fiedler's work, both critical and creative, appeared in many prominent publications, including The Kenyon Review and Esquire. He also published dozens of books, some notably monumental tomes. His fame allowed him to divorce his wife of thirty-three years in order to marry a woman over twenty years his junior. He received numerous other honors for his influential and impressively prolific work, including a Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, a Hubbell Medal for lifetime contribution to the study of literature, and a National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award.