Arrogant Beggar

Overview

The target of intense critical comment when it was first published in 1927, Arrogant Beggar's scathing attack on charity-run boardinghouses remains one of Anzia Yezierska's most devastating works of social criticism. The novel follows the fortunes of its young Jewish narrator, Adele Lindner, as she leaves the impoverished conditions of New York's Lower East Side and tries to rise in the world. Portraying Adele's experiences at the Hellman Home for Working Girls, the first half of the novel exposes the "sickening ...
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Arrogant Beggar

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Overview

The target of intense critical comment when it was first published in 1927, Arrogant Beggar's scathing attack on charity-run boardinghouses remains one of Anzia Yezierska's most devastating works of social criticism. The novel follows the fortunes of its young Jewish narrator, Adele Lindner, as she leaves the impoverished conditions of New York's Lower East Side and tries to rise in the world. Portraying Adele's experiences at the Hellman Home for Working Girls, the first half of the novel exposes the "sickening farce" of institutionalized charity while portraying the class tensions that divided affluent German American Jews from more recently arrived Russian American Jews. The second half of the novel takes Adele back to her ghetto origins as she explores an alternative model of philanthropy by opening a restaurant that combines the communitarian ideals of Old World shtetl tradition with the contingencies of New World capitalism. Within the context of this radical message, Yezierska revisits the themes that have made her work famous, confronting complex questions of ethnic identity, assimilation, and female self-realization. Katherine Stubb's introduction provides a comprehensive and compelling historical, social, and literary context for this extraordinary novel and discusses the critical reaction to its publication in light of Yezierska's biography and the once much-publicized and mythologized version of her life story. Unavailable for over sixty years, Arrogant Beggar is now rightfully returned to print.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This realistic, socially conscious, occasionally overly romantic novel by Yezierska 1880-1970 chronicles the adventures of narrator Adele Lindner, who exposes the hypocrisy of the charitably run Hellman Home for Working Girls read the Clara de Hirsch Home after fleeing from the poverty of the Lower East Side. In the seemingly picture-perfect institution, Adele's eyes are opened. She wants to be seen as an equal, but her benefactress instead sees her as a servant girl, someone whose role, she is told later, "consists in serving others." Later, after leaving the home and founding a restaurant, Adele is able to practice philanthropy the way she feels it should be practiced. On its publication in 1927, this book was criticized for its sarcastic attacks on boarding institutions. Though dated and sometimes melodramatic, particularly where Adele's romance with her benefactress's son is concerned, the social commentary about Jewish class and ethnic tensions still rings true. Fast-paced, the book brings to life the teeming activity of the Lower East Side with both passion and careful attention to detail. Apr.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822317494
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1996
  • Pages: 153
  • Sales rank: 669,285
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Anzia Yezierska (1880?–1970) is the author of many books, including the novels Bread Givers (1925), Hungry Hearts (1920), and Salome of the Tenements (1923). Katherine Stubbs is Assistant Professor of English at Colby College.

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