Evolutions of Jewish Character in British Fiction: Nor Yet Redeemed builds upon recent scholarship concerning representations of Jews in the British Romantic and Victorian periods. Existing studies identify common trends, or link positive Jewish portrayals to authorial interests and social movements; this volume argues that understanding developments in Jewish portrayals can be enhanced by looking at the way antecedent Jewish characters and tropes are negotiated within developing literary movements. Evolutions of Jewish Character in British Fiction examines how the contradictory nature of Jewish stereotypes, combined with the Jews’ complicated entanglement of religion, race, and nationality, presented an opportunity for writers to think about the gap between representations and individuals. The tension between stereotyping and Realist impulses leads to a diversity of Jewish types, but also to an increasingly muddled sense of Jewish interests. This confusion over Jewish identity generated in turn a subgenre of texts that sought to educate readers about Jews by interrogating stereotypes and thinking about the Jews’ relationships to host cultures. In a literary landscape increasingly defined by individuality and Realism, outcast and secretive Jews provided subjects ready-made to reveal the inadequacies of surfaces for understanding the interior self. The replacement of simplistic Jewish stereotypes with morally complex Jewish characters is an effect both of Realism’s valuation of interiority and of the historical movement towards expanding the definitions of British identity.

Articles

Wandering through Bowers Beloved”: The Wandering Jew and the Woman Poet in Caroline Norton’s The Undying One. Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, Vol, 11, no.1, Spring 2015

(De)Radicalism: Rootlessness and the Subversive Power of Money in Godwin’s Caleb Williams and St. Leon.  Lumen, vol. 32, 2013

Although Caroline Norton is best remembered for her disastrous marriage and her tireless campaign for women’s property and divorce rights, she was also regarded by her contemporaries as a great poet. Norton’s long poem The Undying One (1830) merits study for its parallels to Norton’s life and disappointment with marriage, but such a reading is limited in its scope and would ignore more productive interpretations. The poem deserves attention more for its engagement with the Victorian poetess tradition and for its uniquely styled version of the Wandering Jew myth. Norton’s life and works straddle the Romantic and Victorian periods, and study of her works, like those of her contemporaries Felicia Hemans and Letitia Elizabeth Landon, provides valuable insight into the transitional period between these two eras. The Undying One is an especially fruitful poem because it blends Romantic hallmarks such as sublime landscapes and the Gothic with Victorian domestic values and sentimentalism.

It is unsurprising that William Godwin, a thinker whose major project was considered by critics to be an upheaval of all inherited tradition, would focus on questions of rootlessness in his first two novels. Both Caleb Williams and St. Leon present heroes who are plagued by the inability to maintain connections with other individuals as a result of past actions and suffer for having negative or unknown reputations. Although the heroes are uprooted from their past through calumny and poor judgment, they attempt to define themselves by present action and good intentions, rather than by the prejudices of the societies that have cast them out. Williams and St. Leon each develop a pattern of thought in which they see themselves both as outsider and member; they at once reject the opinion of society, instead favoring pure reason and an obstinate sense of righteousness, and maintain the importance of living in and supporting that society.

All eighteen-year-old Ri wants is to cure her adoptive father Samuel from his hallucination-inducing illness. Everyone in her village tells her it's impossible. But when she meets two newcomers in the forest—a gruff rogue with a vendetta against the gods and a charming fugitive with the power to travel through water—she'll be torn away from Samuel and swept across the sea to an oppressed city governed by a ruthless tyrant. Once there, she'll not only have to confront Samuel's unlawful past, but a vicious evil that threatens all mankind.

In this tale of bravery, friendship, and unexpected love, Ri must discover her own strength to save the men she cares for.

When a colleague dies under suspicious circumstances, everyone wants a piece of Nick Grady's criminal enterprise. However, Nick complex past comes full circle, thrusting the new manager in a scramble to decipher the truth behind the chaotic lives of the people he holds dear. "A large marijuana growing operation, Russian mobsters, undercover drug agents, and a biker gang, wraps up with a series of unexpected and shocking plot reversals that brings the book to a violent, surprising, and powerful end." (BookLife Prize in Fiction, by Publishers Weekly)

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