Beyond the Gold­en Door: Jew­ish Amer­i­can Dra­ma and Jew­ish Amer­i­can Experience

Julius Novick
  • Review
By – January 3, 2012
This study of Jew­ish Amer­i­can dra­ma as it reflects Jew­ish Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence is the first book on the sub­ject and a bril­liant one: com­pre­hen­sive, insight­ful, elo­quent, and wit­ty — includ­ing tren­chant analy­ses of plays by Elmer Rice, Clif­ford Odets, Arthur Miller, Pad­dy Chayef­sky, Joseph Stein, Alfred Uhry, Don­ald Mar­gulies, Herb Gard­ner, and Wendy Wasser­stein.

For Novick the great ques­tion” these play­wrights explore in their work is how (or whether)” their char­ac­ters keep faith with their Jew­ish her­itage, while at the same time embrac­ing (or not embrac­ing) Amer­i­can oppor­tu­ni­ties, moral, as well as mate­r­i­al.”

Espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing, in this regard, is his chap­ter on Arthur Miller and the Jews,” where Novick dis­cuss­es the pros and cons of the Jew­ish­ness” of Death of a Sales­man, Miller hav­ing in recent years iden­ti­fied the Lomans as Jews — but as Jews who have lost their Jew­ish­ness.”

Novick demon­strates well how expres­sive this dra­ma is not only of the Jew­ish Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence; but of the expe­ri­ence of most of us in this famous­ly mul­ti­eth­nic nation of immi­grants and their descendents.”
Nor­man J. Fed­der, Ph.D., is dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of the­atre at Kansas State Uni­ver­si­ty. He is cur­rent­ly on the fac­ul­ty of the Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Arts Pro­gram at Nova South­east­ern University.

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