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Old Challenges and New Horizons in English and American Studies

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Edited By Anna Walczuk and Wladyslaw Witalisz

The volume is a collection of essays representative of the wide focus of research encouraged and coordinated by the Polish Association for the Study of English (member of ESSE). Articles selected for the volume deal with works of poetry, drama and prose written in English and invite the reader to view them in the context of intercultural and intertextual discourse. Authors discussed in the articles include: John Redford, William Shakespeare, John Dryden, James Macpherson, John Clare, Anna Radcliffe, Horace Walpole, George Gordon Byron, Charles Dickens, G.K. Chesterton, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, T.F. Powys, Patrick White, Brian Friel, Brendan Behan, Philip Roth, Alice Walker, Chaim Potok, Ian McEwan, Kiran Desai, and Sarah Kane. In many of the essays the reader will notice a meta-discursive argument on the interplay between tradition and innovation in English studies.
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The Slippery Slope of American Jewishness:Defining a Jewish Hero

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The Slippery Slope of American Jewishness: Defining a Jewish Hero

Anna Gawlikowska

Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Kraków

American Jewish fiction is widely read and is of paramount importance to contemporary literature. Works of such mid-twentieth century authors as Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud and Chaim Potok deal exhaustively with the uphill struggle of being a Jew in the USA and therefore, the analyses of the main character pervade literary criticism. Yet, his (gender specificity will be tackled later in the article) very existence and personality traits are mainly scrutinised through the lens of a “victim hero,” and not as much from the particularly “Jewish hero” viewpoint. The author of the following article does not subscribe to the idea that these two terms are interchangeable, as – though the two concepts intertwine – the “Jewish hero” seems to be a much broader concept, which simply draws from and incorporates the one of the “victim hero.” Following this thread, this article is an attempt to define the concept of a “Jewish hero” through the analysis of three flagship works of Jewish identity struggle in the twentieth century and their main characters: Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint and Alex Portnoy; Bernard Malamud’s The Assistant and Frank Alpine; and Chaim Potok’s The Chosen and Danny Saunders.

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