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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 15Focusing on Jewish Religious Life, 1500-1900$
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Antony Polonsky and Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774716

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774716.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Book Reviews

Book Reviews

David Patterson The Hebrew Novel in Czarist Russia

(p.479) Book Reviews
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 15

Alice Nakhimovsky

Liverpool University Press

This chapter looks at how David Patterson’s book shows to what extent the early Hebrew novelists of czarist Russia achieved their goals. As writers of fiction, they certainly considered themselves Europeans. Artistic depth proved more elusive, but social portraits and social criticism abounded. It is in this area that the novels — and Patterson’s book — remain a rich source of information for modern readers. Believing, along with their Russian models, that fiction was a teacher of life, the Hebrew novelists wrote like reformers. As they idealized what they considered the proper path to a Jewish future and satirized what they saw as retrograde or false, the chapter shows how the book can be a valuable guide to what they themselves believed. Those parts of the novels that are descriptive without being tendentious are another source of information. Here the student of the Jewish past can find the physical details of daily life and an account of how to get along (do business, bribe, and dodge the draft) in the conditions of the Russian empire.

Keywords:   Hebrew novels, czarist Russia, Russian empire, David Patterson, book review, Hebrew novelists, Jewish literature

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