By R. Barbara Gitenstein
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Additional info for Apocalyptic messianism and contemporary Jewish-American poetry
New York. Gershom Scholem, The Messianic Idea in Judaism. , New York. Reprinted by permission. The False Messiah by Leonard Wolf. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Wolf. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Page 1 Introduction A quirk of Jewish-American literary criticism is that it is almost exclusively about prose fiction. Since poetry is a major genre in all Jewish diaspora literatures and since Jewish-American literature has a history of approximately one hundred years, the absence of poets in the tradition would at least be worth nothing.
Plutzik's poem finds Eliot's gentle nature a fraud, for the master could not turn it to Jews as well as to other humans. In this poem, we see one of the most poignant expressions of the conflict during this second era of Jewish-American poetry: how to be a poet and a Jew in the heyday of American Modernism; how to be true to both the universal ideals of the art object of the western tradition and the ethnic soul of the Jewish self. The academic side of Jewish-American poetry, evident also in such poets as Delmore Schwartz and Karl Shapiro, is alive and well Page 7 in contemporary America, the third historical era.
In the new age there had to be a new Torah, a new law. The apocalyptic itself as a literary genre becomes a causal factor in some movements of pseudomessiahs. Abba Hillel Silver, in A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel, states that some of the individuals were created as much by the literary documents of Page 23 apocalypse as they were by political and social situations. 29 In Jewish apocalyptic messianism, therefore, literature can create reality. No tradition valued the power of the word more.
Apocalyptic messianism and contemporary Jewish-American poetry by R. Barbara Gitenstein