Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Impossible JewIdentity and the Reconstruction of Jewish American Literary History$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Benjamin Schreier

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479868681

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479868681.001.0001

Show Summary Details

Why Jews Aren’t Normal

Why Jews Aren’t Normal

The Unrepresentable Future of Philip Roth’s The Counterlife

Chapter:
(p.149) 4 Why Jews Aren’t Normal
Source:
The Impossible Jew
Author(s):

Benjamin Schreier

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479868681.003.0005

This chapter articulates a more critical concept of identity that can contribute to a more theoretically justified—and a more literary critically interesting—Jewish literary study. Through a close reading of Philip Roth's 1986 novel The Counterlife, it examines writer Nathan Zuckerman's claim that he can only be a Jew where there are no other Jews. The Counterlife alternately embraces and resists the concept of authenticity in its displacement of Jewish normativity. The novel also helps articulate a critical Jewish American literary study that contests the terms in which we inevitably take for granted the self-evident categorical legibility of identity. This chapter shows how Roth's Zuckerman books illuminate the desire for Jewish self-evidence and argues that Roth is important to Jewish American literary study because his work stages the fundamental polemical labor of a Jewish literary history.

Keywords:   identity, Philip Roth, The Counterlife, Nathan Zuckerman, Jews, authenticity, Jewish normativity, Jewish American literary study, self-evidence, Jewish literary history

NYU Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.