Category Archives: Anglo-Jewish Lit

“The Promised Land” Open University, London, 23rd July 2015

Papers given:

  • ‘Tragedy or Neutropia? The Honourable Woman’
    Dr. Sue Vice, University of Sheffield
  • ‘British-Jewish Utopias and Dystopias from Zangwill to Jacobson’
    Professor Brian Cheyette, University of Reading
  • “No Outlines”: From Dystopia to Heterotopia in Howard Jacobson’s J’
    Dr. Ruth Gilbert, University of Winchester
  • ‘Messianism and British-Jewish Utopia’
    Dr. Peter Lawson, Open University
  • ‘The Future is Orange: Utopia and Dystopia in the Films of Stanley Kubrick’
    Dr. Nathan Abrams, Bangor University
  • ‘No Promised Land: A. C. Jacobs’ Poetry and the “Moment” of Diaspora’
    Dr. Merle Bachman, Spalding University
  • ‘East, North and West End: The Promised Land across London in the Plays of Bernard Kops’
    Mr. Jeremy Solomons, Boston University & University of Reading
  • Reading from her memoir “Losing Israel”
    Jasmine Donohaye, Swansea University
  • ‘The Idea of Jewish Racial Space: Zionist Utopia in the Anglo-Jewish Imagination’
    Professor Gavin Schaffer, University of Birmingham
  • ‘Jewtopia: Herbert Samuel, Rewriting Bacon’s New Atlantis, and Zionism’
    Dr. Finn Fordham, Royal Holloway University of London
  • ‘Skin: a Metafictional Investigation into Jewish “Blackness” from Chamberlain’s and Pierce’s Racism to its Deconstruction in Modern British Film’
    Dr. Federico Dal Bo, ICI Berlin
  • Paper Title: ‘Michael Moorcock’s Pyat Quartet, Twentieth-Century History, and the Failure of the Utopian’
    Dr. Eric Sandberg, University of Oulu

A Triumph of Dylanology

bob-dylan-in-tallisMy professor Bryan Cheyette aside from being a literary scholar is a Dylanologist.  In a personal sense, Dylan is a connection–when I first began to think about doing my doctorate, I spent several amazing times talking through ideas with Christopher Ricks, Dr. Cheyette names “Dylanologist-in-Chief.” After the topics that Dr. Ricks and I were discussing didn’t lead to an obvious PhD topic, I went home and came up with my current work, and now have the honour of working with the “Anglo-Jewish Literologist-in-Chief.” Read Dr. Cheyette’s essay on Dylan and his connection to Jewishness at the University of Reading, English at Reading blog.

A triumph of Dylanology


RIP Peter Shaffer

Peter Shaffer

Obituraries;PEter Shaffer 1980
The Guardian
The New York TImes
Jewish Chronicle


The 19th-Century Lesbian Writer Who Met a Tragic End

Published in the Jewniverse
December 17, 2014 | By

amy-levyThe challenges and rewards facing the female entrepreneur, the depiction of same-sex love, and a critique of the materialist values of affluent Jewish society—these contemporary themes got an early, gripping treatment long before Philip Roth, Gloria Steinem, and Susan Sontag by  pioneering 19th-century author Amy Levy.  One of seven children born to assimilated, middle-class London parents in 1861, Levy was a prodigy who first published at age 14, and went on to become the first Jewish woman to attend Cambridge University.

In addition to essays which appeared in English Jewish periodicals and in Oscar Wilde’s feminist magazine, The Woman’s World, Levy is remembered for A London Plane-Tree, a posthumously published collection which touches on her desire for another woman, and novels including The Romance of a Shop, a story about sisters who establish a photography business, and Reuben Sachs, which casts a deprecating eye on the insular caste system and unrefined behavior of London’s elite Jewish families.

Written as a response to the artificial and sanctified treatment of Jews in George Eliot’s famous Zionist novel, Daniel Deronda, Reuben Sachs received unfavorable reviews.

Levy tragically took her own life at the age of 27.

Go to the wesite


Links to Articles about Chimen Abramsky and The House of 20,000 Books

Halban – UK Publisher
Reviews of this Book
Sasha Abramsky speaking about the book  The House of Twenty Thousand Books:
Sasha’s Articles about his Grandfather:

The Promised Land: Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary British-Jewish Culture

The Promised Land: Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary British-Jewish Culture.


Three on a Match – The New Yorker

Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Rafe Spall in Pinter’s pas de trois.“Harold Pinter’s artistic vision focussed less on love than on the con. Born in 1930, Pinter grew up Jewish in modest circumstances in London’s East End, the beloved only child of hardworking parents, whose own forebears had emigrated to escape the pogroms in Poland and Russia at the turn of the last century. In 1939, Pinter, along with twenty-four other kids from his school, was evacuated to a mock-Gothic castle in Cornwall. He called this separation from his parents “traumatic,” and, in Michael Billington’s ample 1996 biography, he described a heart-wrenching pilgrimage that the couple made to see him during his exile on the coast. “When they left to get the bus it was a long way back to the lodge for me to walk,” Pinter, who died in 2008, said. “But I went all the way to the castle and looked back and could just see them as pinpoints waiting for the bus on the road; and I suddenly ran all the way back to them over the mounds of grass, racing towards them and of course they came towards me too.” That was love. But there’s no drama in reciprocation. Spiritually orphaned—“There was no fixed sense of being . . . of being . . . at all,” Pinter said of his life during the evacuation—the burgeoning playwright was inducted then, and during the war-torn years that followed, into a world of displaced boys, lads who showed him how guile, lies, and emotional distance could not only help get the girl but also contribute to her destruction. “I think as a result of that loss and confusion, one became, generally speaking, nastier,” he said. “Horrid is the word. I think we were all a bunch of horrid little boys because of the loss of security.”

Read More…Three on a Match – The New Yorker.


Taken at Midnight by Mark Hayhurst

Penelope Wilton in Taken at Midnight

My brother Tim and I saw the Haymarket transfer of this play on Thursday night.  Well done play with excellent performances from Wilton and Mark Hutson as mother and son.  Hutson plays the lawyer who put Hitler on the witness stand.  This is the latest in Hayhurst obsessive retelling of this story after a TV play, The Man Who Crossed Hitler and a documentary, Hans Litten vs Adolf Hitler. Kate Kellaway writes in The Observer, “Writing about Nazi Germany well is extraordinarily hard. It needs compassion, balance, lack of sensationalism. Jonathan Church’s first-rate production has all these. And it is an emotional ordeal – as it should be.”

The Observer – Haymarket
The Guardian – Chichester, Minerva Theatre


Tum Balalaika

balalaikaI have been using this blog much.  It is meant to be the informal companion to my Anglo-Jewish Literature Since 1945, I have neglected it.  I am wring my thesis about Anglo- (British)-Jewish Drama and in the process come across all these little things. Today, in the play The Hamlet of Stepney Green by Bernard Kops is a reference to the tune of Tum Balalaika, you can hear it here sung by the Tum Balalaika Klezmer Band from Chicago or with a lot of balalaikas here sung by the Adelaide balalaikas and singers.

It appears in a play that uses Hamlet as a starting pint, but settles him in the East End of London, and the first lines of the song are:

“Shteyt a bokher, un er trakht (also shteyt un trakht) / Trakht un trakht a gantse nakht” which in English is: “A young man stands and thinks (and stands and thinks) / Thinks and thinks the whole night though.” Very Hamletesque!


Jewy Books: Including Jewish Characters Doesn’t Have To Be a Big Deal Anymore