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Patterning a New Life

Patterning a New Life

American Jewish Literature in 1929

(p.171) 11 Patterning a New Life
Gabriella Safran
NYU Press

This chapter examines American Jewish literature produced in 1929, with particular emphasis on Michael Gold's “proletarian novel” Jews without Money, Charles Reznikoff's By the Waters of Manhattan, and the English translation of Isaac Babel's revolutionary Russian story sequence Red Cavalry Stories. It considers how the three texts shed light on and enact some of the changes of 1929 that had affected Jews and non-Jews alike, including the founding of the Jewish Agency, the Hebron riots in Palestine, the U.S. stock market crash, and the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924 that instituted a quota system for immigrants to the United States. It also explores aspects of the texts that are harder to analyze as historical phenomena in order to understand the culture of American Jews during the period and what made these works successful.

Keywords:   immigrants, American Jewish literature, Michael Gold, Jews without Money, Charles Reznikoff, By the Waters of Manhattan, Isaac Babel, Red Cavalry Stories, 1929, American Jews

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