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Assimilation and Assertion

The Response to the Holocaust in Mordecai Richler's Writing

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Rachel Brenner Feldhay

The book explores the consciousness of the Holocaust in Canadian Jewish literature. Drawing upon Mordecai Richler's work, it examines the predicament of the North American Jew responding to the national catastrophe he did not experience directly. Richler's writing demonstrates Jewish powerlessness intensified through the direct experience of anti-Semitism in Canada in the 1930s and the 1940s and the loss of faith in humanist liberal values emerging from the consciousness of the European tragedy. The study focuses on the literary representations of the post-Holocaust Jewish identity crisis manifested in ideological and emotional vacillations between assimilation and self-assertion.
Content: The response to the Holocaust in Canadian Jewish literature. Mordecai Richler's view of the break-up of the liberal humanist ideal. Vacillations of the North American Jew between self-assertion and assimilation.