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Seminar paper from the year 2013 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2,7, University of Frankfurt (Main) (Institut für England- und Amerikastudien), course: Victorian Anglo-Jewish Fiction, language: English, abstract: Israel Zangwill is undoubtedly one of the most influential Anglo-Jewish writers of the 19th century in Victorian England. His collection of short stories established him as the „preeminent literary voice of Anglo-Jewry“. He „revealed and explained an alien community to its non-Jewish neighbours and made the universe of the Jewish immigrants more intelligible to their acculturated coreligionists“. The novel "Children in the Ghetto" became „the first Anglo-Jewish bestseller“. Zangwill therein deals with topics such as the social situation of the Jewish community in London's East End as well as their struggle between being modern and religious Jews at the same time. Assimilation and anglicization therefore are huge topics in his literary work. He also offers pointed insights on the tension between assimilated middle-class West End Jews and mainly poor and newly arrived Eastern European Jews at that time, an important aspect to understand the misconceptions inside the Jewish community.
This seminar paper gives an outline on the history of Jews in England until the 19th century, ending with the later Jewish immigrants that came in the sequel of the pogroms in East Europe in the late 19th century. Furthermore, there is a short outlook on the depictions of Jews in English Literature with a special attention on the most well-known representations of Jews in the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Dickens and George Eliot before a brief summary on the representation of Jewish identity in Anglo-Jewish fiction of the 19th century will be given. Consequently, Israel Zangwill‘s literary works will be analysed to a small extend and afterwards the short story "Anglicization" from his short story collection Ghetto Comedies will be summarized and analysed on its representation of Jewish identity, anglicization/assimilation, anti-Semitism and christianity. The aim of this seminar paper is to answer the question, if and to what extend the history of the Jews in England did influence the representation of the Jewish identity in Zangwill‘s "Anglicization" and if the depictions of anglicization/assimilation, anti-Semitism and christianity in the short story could be transfered onto parts of the Jewish community in 19th century England.