Chaim Potok: Confronting Modernity Through the Lens of Tradition

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Daniel Walden
Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 184 pages
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Chaim Potok was a world-class writer and scholar, a Conservative Jew who wrote from and about his tradition and his conflicts between observance and acculturation. With a plain, straightforward style, his novels were set against the moral, spiritual, and intellectual currents of the twentieth century. This collection aims to further widen the lens through which we read Chaim Potok, to establish him as an authentic American writer who created unforgettable characters forging American identities for themselves while also retaining their Jewish nature. The essays illuminate the central struggle in Potok's novels, which results from a profound desire to reconcile the appeal of modernity with the pull of traditional Judaism. The volume concludes with a memoir by Adena Potok and Chaim Potok's "My Life as a Writer," a speech he gave at Penn State in 1982.

Aside from the editor, the contributors are Victoria Aarons, Nathan Devir, Jane Eisner, Susanne Klingenstein, S. Lillian Kremer, Jessica Lang, Sanford Marovitz, Kathryn McClymond, Hugh Nissenson, Adena Potok, and Jonathan Rosen.

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About the author (2013)

Daniel Walden is Professor Emeritus of American Studies, English, and Comparative Literature at Penn State. He founded the Jewish Studies Program at Penn State as well as the journal Studies in American Jewish Literature .

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