Best Jewish Literary Criticism Books

Here you will get Best Jewish Literary Criticism Books For you.This is an up-to-date list of recommended books.

1. Philip Roth: The Biography

Author: by Blake Bailey
912 pages

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New York Times Bestseller The renowned biographer’s definitive portrait of a literary titan. Appointed by Philip Roth and granted independence and complete access, Blake Bailey spent years poring over Roth’s personal archive, interviewing his friends, lovers, and colleagues, and engaging Roth himself in breathtakingly candid conversations.

The result is an indelible portrait of an American master and of the postwar literary scene. Bailey shows how Roth emerged from a lower-middle-class Jewish milieu to achieve the heights of literary fame, how his career was nearly derailed by his catastrophic first marriage, and how he championed the work of dissident novelists behind the Iron Curtain.

Bailey examines Roth’s rivalrous friendships with Saul Bellow, John Updike, and William Styron, and reveals the truths of his florid love life, culminating in his almost-twenty-year relationship with actress Claire Bloom, who pilloried Roth in her 1996 memoir, Leaving a Doll’s House.

Tracing Roth’s path from realism to farce to metafiction to the tragic masterpieces of the American Trilogy, Bailey explores Roth’s engagement with nearly every aspect of postwar American culture.100 photographs

2. Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

Author: by Amy-Jill Levine

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The renowned biblical scholar, author of The Misunderstood Jew, and general editor for The Jewish Annotated New Testament interweaves history and spiritual analysis to explore Jesus’ most popular teaching parables, exposing their misinterpretations and making them lively and relevant for modern readers.

Jesus was a skilled storyteller and perceptive teacher who used parables from everyday life to effectively convey his message and meaning. Life in first-century Palestine was very different from our world today, and many traditional interpretations of Jesus’ stories ignore this disparity and have often allowed anti-Semitism and misogyny to color their perspectives.

In this wise, entertaining, and educational book, Amy-Jill Levine offers a fresh, timely reinterpretation of Jesus’ narratives. In Short Stories by Jesus, she analyzes these problems with parables, taking readers back in time to understand how their original Jewish audience understood them.

Levine reveals the parables’ connections to first-century economic and agricultural life, social customs and morality, Jewish scriptures and Roman culture. With this revitalized understanding, she interprets these moving stories for the contemporary reader, showing how the parables are not just about Jesus, but are also about usand when read rightly, still challenge and provoke us two thousand years later.

3. Proustian Uncertainties: On Reading and Rereading In Search of Lost Time

Author: by Saul Friedländer
176 pages

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Named a Times Literary Supplement Best Book of the Year A Pulitzer Prizewinning historian revisits Marcel Proust’s masterpiece in this essay on literature and memory, exploring the question of identitythat of the novel’s narrator and Proust’s own. This engaging reexamination of In Search of Lost Time considers how the narrator defines himself, how this compares to what we know of Proust himself, and what the significance is of these various points of commonality and divergence.

We know, for example, that the author did not hide his homosexuality, but the narrator did.Why the difference? We know that the narrator tried to marginalize his part-Jewish background. Does this reflect the author’s position, and how does the narrator handle what he tries, but does not manage, to dismiss?

These are major questions raised by the text and reflected in the text, to which the author’s life doesn’t give obvious answers. The narrator’s reflections on time, on death, on memory, and on love are as many paths leading to the image of self that he projects.

4. A Tale of Love and Darkness

Author: by Amos Oz
Mariner Books
560 pages

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The International Bestselling memoir from award-winning author Amos Oz, “one of Isreal’s most prolific writers and respected intellectuals” (The New York Times), about his turbulent upbringing in the city of Jerusalem in the era of the dissolution of Mandatory Palestine and the beginning of the State of Israel.

Winner of the National Jewish Book Award”[An] ingenious work that circles around the rise of a state, the tragic destiny of a mother, a boy’s creation of a new self.”???? The New YorkerA family saga and a magical self-portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent history.

A Tale of Love and Darkness is the story of a boy who grows up in war-torn Jerusalem, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many. The story of an adolescent whose life has been changed forever by his mother’s suicide.

The story of a man who leaves the constraints of his family and community to join a kibbutz, change his name, marry, have children. The story of a writer who becomes an active participant in the political life of his nation.”One of the most enchanting and deeply satisfying books that I have read in many years.”????New Republic

5. To Pray as a Jew: A Guide to the Prayer Book and the Synagogue Service

Author: by Hayim H. Donin
496 pages

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A distinguished guide to Jewish prayerWhy do Jews pray? What is the role of prayer in their lives as moral and ethical beings? From the simplest details of how to comport oneself on entering a synagogue to the most profound and moving comments on the prayers themselves, Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin guides readers of To Pray as a Jew through the entire prescribed course of Jewish liturgy, passage by passage, ritual by ritual, in this handsome and indispensable guide to Jewish prayer.

Unexcelled for beginners as well as the religiously observant, To Pray as a Jew is intended to show the way, to enlighten, and hopefully to inspire.

6. Kafka

Author: by R. Crumb
176 pages

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This brief but inclusive biography of Franz Kafka and summary of many of his works, all illustrated by Crumb, helps us understand the essence of Kafka and provide insight beyond the cliche “Kafkaesque.” “What do I have in common with the Jews?

I don’t even have anything in common with myself.” Nothing could better express the essence of Franz Kafka, a man described by his friends as living behind a “glass wall.” Kafka wrote in the tradition of the great Yiddish storytellers, whose stock-in-trade was bizarre fantasy tainted with hilarity and self-abasement.

What he added to this tradition was an almost unbearably expanded consciousness. Alienated from his roots, his family, his surroundings, and primarily from his own body, Kafka created a unique literary language in which to hide away, transforming himself into a cockroach, an ape, a dog, a mole or a circus artiste who starves himself to death in front of admiring crowds.

David Zane Mairowitz’s brilliant text and the illustrations and comic panels of the world’s greatest cartoonist, Robert Crumb (himself no stranger to self-loathing and alienation), help us to understand the essence of Kafka and provide insight beyond the cliche “Kafkaesque,” peering through Kafka’s glass wall like no other book before it.

7. My Wild Garden: Notes from a Writer's Eden

Author: by Meir Shalev
304 pages

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A colorfully illustrated round of the season in the garden of the best-selling novelist, memoirist, and champion putterer with a wheelbarrow On the perimeter of Israel’s Jezreel Valley, with the Carmel mountains rising up in the west, Meir Shalev has a beloved garden, neither neatly organized nor well kept, as he cheerfully explains.

Often covered in mud and scrapes, Shalev cultivates both nomadic plants and house dwellers, using his own quirky techniques. He extolls the virtues of the lemon tree, rescues a precious variety of purple snapdragon from the JerusalemTel Aviv highway, and does battle with a saboteur mole rat.

He even gives us his superior private recipe for curing olives. Informed by Shalev’s literary sensibility, his sometime riotous humor, and his deep curiosity about the land, My Wild Garden abounds with appreciation for the joy of living, quite literally, on Earth.

Our borrowed time on any particular patch of it is enhanced, the author reminds us, by our honest, respectful dealings with all manner of beings who inhabit it with us.

8. A Walker in the City

Author: by Alfred Kazin
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
192 pages

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Kazin’s memorable description of his life as a young man as he makes the journey from Brooklyn to americanca-the larger world that begins at the other end of the subway in Manhattan. A classic portrayal of the Jewish immigrant culture of the 1930s.

Drawings by Marvin Bileck.

9. Jews and Words (Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization)

Author: by Amos Oz
Yale University Press
248 pages

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A celebrated novelist and an acclaimed historian of ideas, father and daughter, unravel the chain of words at the core of Jewish life, history, and culture Why are words so important to so many Jews? Novelist Amos Oz and historian Fania Oz-Salzberger roam the gamut of Jewish history to explain the integral relationship of Jews and words.

Through a blend of storytelling and scholarship, conversation and argument, father and daughter tell the tales behind Judaism’s most enduring names, adages, disputes, texts, and quips. These words, they argue, compose the chain connecting Abraham with the Jews of every subsequent generation.

Framing the discussion within such topics as continuity, women, timelessness, and individualism, Oz and Oz-Salzberger deftly engage Jewish personalities across the ages, from the unnamed, possibly female author of the Song of Songs through obscure Talmudists to contemporary writers. They suggest that Jewish continuity, even Jewish uniqueness, depends not on central places, monuments, heroic personalities, or rituals but rather on written words and an ongoing debate between the generations.

10. The Blessing and the Curse: The Jewish People and Their Books in the Twentieth Century

Author: by Adam Kirsch
304 pages

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An erudite and accessible survey of Jewish life and culture in the twentieth century, as reflected in seminal texts. Following The People and the Books, which “covers more than 2,500 years of highly variegated Jewish cultural expression” (Robert Alter, New York Times Book Review), poet and literary critic Adam Kirsch now turns to the story of modern Jewish literature.

From the vast emigration of Jews out of Eastern Europe to the Holocaust to the creation of Israel, the twentieth century transformed Jewish life. The same was true of Jewish writing: the novels, plays, poems, and memoirs of Jewish writers provided intimate access to new worlds of experience.

Kirsch surveys four themes that shaped the twentieth century in Jewish literature and culture: Europe, America, Israel, and the endeavor to reimagine Judaism as a modern faith. With discussions of major books by over thirty writersranging from Franz Kafka to Philip Roth, Elie Wiesel to Tony Kushner, Hannah Arendt to Judith Plaskowhe argues that literature offers a new way to think about what it means to be Jewish in the modern world.

11. Seventy Conversations In Transit – with HaGaon HaRav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l

Author: by Aaron Adler
179 pages

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The Talmud (Berakhot 7b) relates that ”Attending to one’s teacher of Torah is more meritorious than studying under him” . This work is a compilation of seventy edited conversations conducted between our great Rebbe, HaGaon HaRav Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l (1903-1993) and me predominantly while in transit.

12. The Spectacular Difference: Selected Poems of Zelda

Author: by Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky
Hebrew Union College Press
288 pages

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Filled with vivid, often dreamlike pictures from the natural world, the poems of Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky, known to her Hebrew readers simply as Zelda, are unlike anything else in Hebrew literature. Zelda was the daughter and granddaughter of prominent Hasidic rabbis from the Habad dynasty.

Born in Russia in 1914, she immigrated to Palestine in 1926, studied in religious girls’ schools, and became a schoolteacher. She began writing her imagistic, mystical-religious poetry early in life. When her first book was published, in 1967, it was an overwhelming critical and popular success, appealing to the diverse (and predominantly secular) Israeli public.

Five more volumes followed, winning the poet numerous literary awards, including the prestigious Bialik and Brenner prizes. Although she lived her entire life within the strictures of ultra-Orthodoxy, Zelda’s many admirers came from all corners of Israeli society. As the popularity of her poetry grew, visitors flocked to her doorstep; her photograph appeared often in the newspapers; the words of her poems were set to music and sung.

13. Sorrow and Distress in the Talmud (Judaism and Jewish Life)

Author: by Shulamit Valler
320 pages

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Both the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud depict a wide range of sorrowful situations tied to every level of society and to the complexities of human behavior and the human condition. The causes and expressions of sorrow amongst the Sages, however, are different from their counterparts amongst common people or women, with descriptions varying between the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmud.

In Sorrow and Distress in the Talmud, Valler explores more than 50 stories from both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmuds, focusing on these issues.