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Reconstructing Jewish Identity in Pre- and Post-Holocaust Literature and Culture


Edited By Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pedich and Malgorzata Pakier

The volume aims to illuminate the issue of Jewish identity in the context of its pre-Holocaust European origins and post-Holocaust American and Israeli settings. Jewish experience and identity construction in Europe, America and Israel are presented through diverse perspectives: Merchant of Venice in the light of Levinas’ ethics, Italian Jews in the 20th century, German-speaking Jewish authors in the Nazi 1930s, the Hassidic culture of learning, the representation of contemporary Poland in Jewish photography, Jewish life in America in a kashrut observing Orthodox neighbourhood, Kaballah in feminist cyberpunk fiction by Marge Piercy, constructing Jewish identity in British fiction in novels by Will Self and Muriel Spark, and Israeli films focusing on ethical solutions to political problems.


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The Topography of the Self in Muriel Spark’s The Mandelbaum Gate. Małgorzata Czajka


The Topography of the Self in Muriel Spark’s The Mandelbaum Gate Małgorzata Czajka Before her visit to Jerusalem in 1961 Muriel Spark commented in one of the in- terviews, “That is the theme I want to tackle one day in a novel – the half-Jew. […] So many half-Jews deny their Jewishness, and shut a door on something valuable, on the great spiritual stamina of the Jews” (Stannard, 2010: 228). Dis- covering this stamina among the streets and hills of the Holy Land is one of the main themes in The Mandelbaum Gate. The novel, published in 1965, presents a story set in Jerusalem, Israel and Jordan in 1961. The narrative starts (and ends) with one of the characters going through the Mandelbaum Gate, which separated the Israeli and Jordanian parts of the city. Through this act of crossing, both literal and metaphorical, the reader is instantly immersed in a complicated polit- ical, cultural, and religious situation symbolized by the physical presence of the state border dividing the city into two parts. Although the gate, or rather, “ […] hardly a gate at all, but a piece of street between Jerusalem and Jerusalem […]” (Spark, 1965: 330), was torn down in 1967, it is still remembered as a symbol of Jerusalem’s division. In the given context, going through the gate is not only inscribed in everyday reality of the place, but it also provides a symbolic frame for the novel. In August 1961 Jerusalem is torn between Israel and Jordan; it is the scene...

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