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Life writing and the East End

Life writing and the East End
Life writing and the East End
Romancing the Jewish East End is something of a heritage industry, particularly amongst life-writers of (auto)biographies and family memoirs. This may in part be attributed to the way in which the Jewish East End (with its poverty, Yiddish speakers, religious eccentrics, resistance to Fascism and direct experience of WWII) has subtly seemed to shadow the life and death of the European shtetl. And as with so many representations of the shtetl, critics of the East End canon have likewise been criticised for their nostalgic clinging on to a past that may never have been present. In this essay, however, I examine the East End Jewish mythos with reference to life-writing including three memoirs from within my own family. I argue that what is special about the Jewish East End may be the way it inspired dreams about it, as well as dreams of escaping it, even in its heyday. In so doing I reflect on the complex interweave of concerns animating the writing of diasporic Jewish lives no matter where they are lived. Writers consulted include: Jonathan Freeland, Andrew Miller, Bernard Kops, Antonia Fraser, Emanuel Litvinoff, Rachel Lichtenstein and Iain Sinclair, Lisa Appignanesi, Philip Roth, Aharon Appelfeld, Harold Pinter and Anne Frank.
9780748646159
221-236
Edinburgh University Press
Baum, Devorah
d24ec600-e518-4122-acbe-2bfb5d3dcb26
Brauner, David
Stähler, Axel
Baum, Devorah
d24ec600-e518-4122-acbe-2bfb5d3dcb26
Brauner, David
Stähler, Axel

Baum, Devorah (2015) Life writing and the East End. In, Brauner, David and Stähler, Axel (eds.) The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction. Edinburgh, GB. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 221-236.

Record type: Book Section

Abstract

Romancing the Jewish East End is something of a heritage industry, particularly amongst life-writers of (auto)biographies and family memoirs. This may in part be attributed to the way in which the Jewish East End (with its poverty, Yiddish speakers, religious eccentrics, resistance to Fascism and direct experience of WWII) has subtly seemed to shadow the life and death of the European shtetl. And as with so many representations of the shtetl, critics of the East End canon have likewise been criticised for their nostalgic clinging on to a past that may never have been present. In this essay, however, I examine the East End Jewish mythos with reference to life-writing including three memoirs from within my own family. I argue that what is special about the Jewish East End may be the way it inspired dreams about it, as well as dreams of escaping it, even in its heyday. In so doing I reflect on the complex interweave of concerns animating the writing of diasporic Jewish lives no matter where they are lived. Writers consulted include: Jonathan Freeland, Andrew Miller, Bernard Kops, Antonia Fraser, Emanuel Litvinoff, Rachel Lichtenstein and Iain Sinclair, Lisa Appignanesi, Philip Roth, Aharon Appelfeld, Harold Pinter and Anne Frank.

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More information

Published date: June 2015
Organisations: English

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 385120
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/385120
ISBN: 9780748646159
PURE UUID: 1cafc47e-073c-446c-a774-8a2625dd73d0

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Date deposited: 04 Jan 2016 10:33
Last modified: 16 Dec 2019 20:10

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