Tenement Saga: The Lower East Side and Early Jewish American Writers / Edition 1

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    Nearly two million Jewish men, women, and children emigrated from Eastern Europe between 1882 and 1924 and settled in, or passed through, the Lower East Side of New York City. Sanford Sternlicht tells the story of his own childhood in this vibrant neighborhood and puts it within the context of fourteen early twentieth-century East Side writers. Anzia Yezierska, Abraham Cahan, Michael Gold, and Henry Roth, and others defined this new "Jewish homeland" and paved the way for the later great Jewish American novelists.
    Sternlicht discusses the role of women, the Yiddish Theater, secular values, the struggle between generations, street crime, politics, labor unions, and the importance of newspapers and periodicals. He documents the decline of Yiddish culture as these immigrants blended into what they called "The Golden Land."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"History, the Old Country, work, leisure and entertainment, politics, women and children, crime—these are some of the many aspects of Jewish immigrant life Sternlicht covers in his wide-ranging introduction to life on the Lower East Side."—Harvey Teres, author of Renewing the Left: Politics, Imagination, and the New York Intellectual

"‘Roots-gathering,’ Jewish style!"—Sanford Pinsker, author of The Schlemiel as Metaphor

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299204846
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Sanford Sternlicht, author of many books, including Student Companion to Elie Wiesel and Chaim Potok: A Critical Companion, is professor of English at Syracuse University. This book draws upon Sternlicht’s popular talks and lessons to students on field trips to the Lower East Side, where they experience its sights, sounds, history, and monuments (such as the famous Katz’s Deli).

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Table of Contents

Pt. 1 The Lower East Side
Cultural history and topography 3
Where did they come from? 3
Immigrant life 10
The immigrant woman and the family 14
Education 17
Work 21
The Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire and the rise of labor laws 28
The public forum : Jewish newspapers and periodicals 30
Reading 32
Religion and secularism 34
Prostitution 35
Other types of crime 37
The impact of historical events 39
The Yiddish theater 44
Other forms of recreation and entertainment 48
Food 50
The Lower East Side tenement museum on Orchard Street 55
Moving on 56
Pt. 2 Early Jewish American writers
The writers 61
Antecedents in American literature 62
Themes 62
City fiction 64
Abraham Cahan 66
Anzia Yezierska 82
Rose Cohen 91
Marcus Eli Ravage 95
Samuel Ornitz 98
Marie Ganz 103
Ben Hecht 107
Michael Gold 111
Samson Raphaelson 118
Marya Zaturenska 122
Louis Zukofsky 124
Sydney Taylor 127
Henry Roth 130
Harry Roskolenko 150
Conclusion : a group picture from the Williamsburg bridge 155
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