Critical Submissions

Fantasy as a critique of contemporary societies of the author’s in Northern Lights and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Emily

Phillip Pullman’s Northern Lights and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are examples of fantasy novels, or fantasy-containing novels, that critique – however explicitly – the society at the time in which they are written. These novelists draw on aspects of their ‘real worlds’ and use fantasy as a medium in which to hide a critique on these such societies. In both novels the origin of authority, and ultimately the society as a whole, is challenged by the respective protagonists of each novel learning to defy this authority and think for themselves. In this essay, I will first discuss the use of fantasy to critique the repressive authoritative power of the Magisterium in Pullman’s Northern Lights, then I will discuss the critique of nonsense of Victorian society in Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and finally comparing the two. Throughout, I will draw on Todorov and Tolkien’s theories of the Fantastic in order to examine and compare how the novels use fantasy as a means of critiquing society.

            Tolkien states that “fantasy is made out of the Primary World”, which can be seen in many aspects of Pullman’s 1995 novel, but most importantly in the ‘Magisterium’[1][2]. The Magisterium is a somewhat corrupt organisation that controls Lyra’s world, and there are many similarities to organisations in the ‘real world’. William Gray seems of the opinion that Pullman is critiquing the Christian Church, as he states that “the ever-present but never-named Christianity is presented in an exclusively negative light”[3]. However, whether the Magisterium is representing Christianity or not is beyond the point; what matters is that the Magisterium could represent any authoritative organisation that is repressing its citizens. The citizens of the novel are feared into submitting and accepting the rule of the Magisterium, with Pullman writing that ‘the Church’s power over every aspect of life was absolute’ and that the Magisterium was ‘the most feared of all the Church bodies’(31). One of the main critiques on the Magisterium is their part in the intercision of children from their dæmons, or as Manlove iterates, the “dehumanising of people”[4]. The Church supporting this mutilation of children creates warning signs for Lyra; in her knowledge of this she questions whether the Magisterium is as good as they claim. By applying Tolkien’s idea that fantasy stems from a “Primary World”, the novel can arguably be opening the churches and other social organisations of the readers’ world to a similar questioning of their truthfulness.

Lyra begins to question the Magisterium when she finds out that Mrs Coulter (someone she wholeheartedly trusted) ‘was on of the Gobblers herself’ (108). Alongside this already brutal betrayal of faith Lyra learns that ‘she was going to use [her] to help her catch more kids’, making Lyra feel more deceived and disgusted (108). In response, Mrs Coulter (the main spokesperson of the Oblation Board – part of the Magisterium) and those associated with her, claim that intercision is for the good of everybody, stating ‘what’s done is for their good as well as ours’ (96). However, this claim is brought into question when Mrs Coulter prevents Lyra from going through the process herself after her face ‘grew haggard and horror-struck’ in realising that Lyra had mistakenly almost been the subject of intercision (227). It can be seen that as much as Mrs Coulter wishes to make new discoveries, she only wishes to use people she has no connection with, and this can be seen as a critique on how the rulers in Pullman’s ‘real world’ only care about how things would affect them.

            Furthermore, the concept of Dust is an important fantastic element that acts as a critique on authority, especially in the sense that it is hidden from the citizens knowledge. It is obvious that “the Church […] sees the Dust as simply evil” and this is clearly shown in the reworking of the Adam and Eve episode of the Bible that Lord Asriel reads[5]. He explains that when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they caused ‘sin [to come] into the world’ and that ‘it came the moment their dæmons became fixed’ (370). Dust is associated with sin in this biblical alteration and thus the Magisterium wish to eradicate it in the hopes of preserving innocence and ridding the world of sin. Mrs Coulter seems to believe that children “might be kept perpetually innocent by severing them from their dæmon”, and no matter what the consequences are she is determined to achieve this[6]. The fact that Dust collects around children when they go through puberty leads to a connection between sin and growing up. By critiquing this view (in the sense that Lyra ends up challenging the idea that Dust is bad) Northern Lights becomes a novel that celebrates growing up.

            Pullman’s novel clearly fits extremely well into Tolkien’s idea that fantasy draws on reality to make it more believable, however, Todorov’s theories rely on the reader questioning whether the fantasy has a natural explanation which it certainly does not. In this sense, Northern Lights is categorised, according to Todorov’s theory, as a “fantastic-marvellous’ novel in which is read “with an acceptance of the supernatural”[7]. Carroll’s novel, however, is a great subject of Todorov’s theories, in that all of the supernatural events are given a reasonable explanation at the end. As a result, Alice becomes a “fantastic-uncanny” novel[8]. This also results in a more direct connection to the “Primary World” of Carroll, as Alice starts and returns to this world within the novel itself, although Wonderland does provide an excellent veil of these connections.

Lewis Carroll hides his critiques on Victorian society throughout the nonsensical world of Wonderland. Unlike Northern Lights, where the majority of the critiques are focussed on authoritative organisations as a whole, Alice provides many critiques on many different aspects of the Victorian ways of life[9]. Some such aspects that are criticised are education, morals and manners, with critic, Hunt, stating that “each [Alice] book is a satire-allegory on politics [and] a commentary on Victorian mores”[10]. There are many references to education throughout the novel hidden in the fantastical elements of Wonderland. Alice continually tries to apply ‘real world’ logic to her fantastic surroundings, for example, trying to figure out how far she is falling, saying ‘I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down’ (4). This obviously incorrect calculation shows her desire to be knowledgeable but also, being incorrect, demonstrates how a woman’s education does not focus as strongly on academics as it does on preparing women for a domestic life. Purely writing that Alice is interested in education critiques Victorian society, in which women “should never be interested in learning for its own sake” but should be interested in learning to “become true complements to middle-class males”[11].

            Furthermore, Alice tries tirelessly to apply logic to the different fantastical events in Wonderland, but simultaneously shares her confusion about the strange creatures and ways of Wonderland – a major factor in being a fantasy novel according to Todorov. He states that for a novel to be seen as ‘fantastic’ it must leave the reader “hesitat[ing] between a natural and a supernatural explanation of the events described” and “this hesitation may also be experienced by a character”[12]. Alice continually questions what is happening throughout her journey through Wonderland, for instance when she asks the cards ‘why [they] are painting those roses’ (102). The natural explanation for the fantastic world of Wonderland is that it is all a dream in the end, and according to Todorov’s theory this would be make Carroll’s novel a “fantastic-uncanny” novel, where the “supernatural […] receive[s] a rational explanation at its end”[13].Wonderland appears as an upside-down version of reality, where rabbits can talk, and time stands still. According to Rabkin “a true fantasy such as Alice continues to reverse its ground rules time and again”, and the reversal of such ground rules leads to questions about the way that Victorian society is run[14]. One example would be Alice’s constant disgust at the poor manners of the fantastic characters in the novel, like the when Alice explains to the baby that grunting is ‘not at all the proper way of expressing yourself’ (78). Despite the baby actually being a pig, so it cannot do anything but grunt, Carroll uses the baby to mock the obsession that the English have with good manners and speaking properly.

However, despite such obvious examples of fantastic elements in the novel, Tolkien believes that for a novel to be considered fantasy, “it cannot tolerate any frame or machinery suggesting that the whole story […] is a figment or illusion”[15]. Hence, Alice is only “successful and amusing as a dream story” which is separate from fantasy[16]. Todorov also states that for a novel to be fantastic “it must neither be ‘poetic’ or ‘allegorical’”, and Hunt’s statement that Alice is a “satire-allegory” supports the argument that Alice could not be considered a wholly fantastic novel[17][18]. However, as can be seen extensively above, the whole novel is based in a fantastical world, with different fantastic events taking place, making it difficult to dismiss this mass of fantasy for two minor arguments against categorising the novel in the ‘fantasy’ genre. Although, as can be seen in Todorov’s argument anyway, there are various extents of the fantastic, so even if the novel is not wholly fantastic it certainly is substantially.  

Despite Northern Lights and Alice being two completely different novels from different times, there are many similarities between the two novels and their use of fantasy. Most significantly, the are similar in the way that they use fantasy to disguise critiques on their contemporary society and in that both protagonists become strong females that learn to stand up to authority if it is not just. The fantasy elements are not only used to show the problems in the ‘real world’, but to help Lyra and Alice find their true identities and learn to fight for what they believe in. The climax of both novels results in the girls challenging those above them; Lyra challenging Miss Coulter and Lord Asriel, and Alice questioning the Queen of Hearts. In the beginning of Northern Lights, Lyra believes that Dust is a bad thing because that is what the adults in her life have told her, and obviously Lyra believed them ‘because they were grown up and they said so’(395). However, at the end of the novel Lyra realises that this may not be the case, coming to the hopeful question of ‘what if it’s really good’(396). Ultimately, Pullman is showing how you cannot trust everything that the people in charge of society tell you and uses the fantastic element of Dust to do this. Similarly, for Alice, the nonsense of Wonderland becomes too much for her, and she eventually confronts the Queen, in the court scene, about her ridiculous logic by calling ‘the idea of having the sentence first’ before the verdict ‘nonsense’(168). Like Lyra, Alice finally realises that the Queen is wrong and that she must speak for herself, and Carroll uses Alice’s conflict to critique the authority in society. Because of these confrontations both characters’ sense of “identity expands and solidifies”[19]. The fact that both authors use fantasy to embed critiques on their ‘real worlds’ supports the idea that both Tolkien and Todorov have: that “fantasy is regarded as the narrative that results from our construction of a world alternate to this one, a ‘secondary world’ which is composed of elements of the ‘primary world’”[20].


Aichele, George, Jr., ‘Literary Fantasy and Postmodern Theology’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 59, (1991) pp. 323-327

Carroll, Lewis, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, (London: Macmillan Children’s Books, 2015)

Gorham, Deborah, The Victorian Girl and the Feminine Ideal, (Abington: Routledge, 2013)

Gray, William, Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth: Tales of Pullman, Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald and Hoffman, (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010)

Hunt, Peter and Lenz, Millicent, Alternative Worlds in Fantasy Fiction, (London: Continuum, 2001)

Lee, Mary, ‘Education’s Role in the Alice Books’, (1995),,

[accessed 9th January 2018]

Manlove, Colin, From Alice to Harry Potter: Children’s Fantasy in England, (Rochester: Lisa Loucks Christenson Publishing, 2003)

Pullman, Phillip, Northern Lights, (London: Scholastic UK ltd, 2007)

Rabkin, Eric S., The Fantastic in Literature, (Guildford: Princeton University Press, 1976)

Todorov, Tvetan, The Fantastic: A structural Approach to a Literary Genre, trans. by Richard Howard, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975)

Tolkien, J.R.R., ‘On Fairy Stories’, (1939), [accessed 9th January 2018]

[1] J.R.R. Tolkien, ‘On Fairy Stories’, (1939), [accessed 9th January 2018] p. 19

[2] Phillip Pullman, Northern Lights, (London: Scholastic UK ltd, 2007), p. 31

Subsequent references are to this edition and indicated in the text

[3] William Gray, Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth: Tales of Pullman, Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald and Hoffman, (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010), p. 173

[4] Colin Manlove, From Alice to Harry Potter: Children’s Fantasy in England, (Rochester: Lisa Loucks Christenson Publishing, 2003), p. 182

[5] Manlove, p. 181

[6] Ibid., p. 182

[7] Tvetan Todorov, The Fantastic: A structural Approach to a Literary Genre, trans. by Richard Howard, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975), p. 51-2, p. 33

[8] Todorov, p. 44

[9] Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, (London: Macmillan Children’s Books, 2015)

[10] Peter Hunt and Millicent Lenz, Alternative Worlds in Fantasy Fiction, (London: Continuum, 2001), p. 24

[11] Deborah Gorham, The Victorian Girl and the Feminine Ideal, (Abington: Routledge, 2013), p. 105

[12] Todorov, p.33

[13] Ibid, p. 44

[14] Eric S. Rabkin, The Fantastic in Literature, (Guildford: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 37

[15] Tolkien, p. 5

[16] Ibid, p. 5

[17] Todorov, p. 32

[18] Hunt, p. 24

[19] Manlove, p. 180

[20] George Aichele, Jr., ‘Literary Fantasy and Postmodern Theology’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 59, (1991), p. 324

The Conflict between Racial and Lockean Justifications of Slavery in Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno. – Anonymous

The racial hierarchy in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe is symptomatic of the historic general western attitude that white civilisation holds superiority over non-white populations and cultures. The portrayal of ‘savage’ and ‘uncivilised’ locals contrasts the ‘advanced’ capitalist formation of the white Crusoe’s own island and government, allowing for the novel to read as a parabolic retelling of Hobbes’ Leviathan. There are limitations to this thesis; the local cultures do not necessarily conform to the Hobbesian notion of a ‘state of nature,’ nor does Crusoe’s ‘elite’ island always demonstrate the benefits of a governed state. The text does, however, provide sufficient textual evidence to consider Robinson Crusoe a fictitious model of Hobbesian political theory in relation to the racial hierarchy.

            The Hobbesian notion of a ‘state of nature’ is initially exemplified through the brutal cannibalism demonstrated by the ‘savage’ non-white locals in Robinson Crusoe. The ‘state of nature,’ is defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy to mean a national ‘condition without government.’[1] Naturally, the lack of governmental protection entails the individual’s right to ‘use his own power […] for the preservation of his own Nature; that is to say, of his own Life’ and at the detriment of the wellbeing and safety of their peers.[2] Indeed, the locals and their cannibalistic culture depicted in Robinson Crusoe bear striking similarities to the Hobbesian ‘state of nature.’ Crusoe’s early consideration that ‘I had heard that the people of the Caribbean coast were cannibals, or man eaters,’ coupled with his rescuing of Friday from his would-be executioners reiterates the portrayed moral divide between the ‘savage’ local culture and ‘civilised’ white one.[3] Indeed, from an Anglocentric and colonial perspective, the perceived brutality exhibited by the locals justifies Crusoe’s intervention as a moralising white man, improving the ‘barbaric’ local cultures by bringing them into line with the ‘civilised’ English variety. It is important to note that the novel adopts an elitist, Anglocentric view towards the ‘savages.’ The non-white locals’ cannibalistic tendencies are immediately presumed to be arbitrary acts of hedonism by Crusoe. Whilst this may be the case, further details of killings are excluded from the novel and the white narrator is left to ponder the locals’ motives. The fact that Crusoe presumes the motives for cannibalism to lie in an innate racial ‘savagery’ reiterates his own understanding that as a white Englishman, he holds a moral and cultural superiority over the non-white locals. Indeed, Crusoe’s understanding of the ‘savage’ and lawless culture of the locals bears resemblance to the Hobbesian ‘state of nature,’ whilst his own English culture mirrors the desirable ‘civilised’ state described in Leviathan.

            The Leviathan explains that to evolve from a ‘nasty, brutish and short’ society to a civilised state, citizens must transfer a small degree of their own sovereignty to one ruling individual.[4] The act of transferring sovereignty to an all-powerful political leader is a pivotal moment in a society’s transition from the ‘state of nature’ to a more ‘civilised’ and safe one. In Robinson Crusoe, Friday acts as a microcosm for this societal development. Critic, Roxann Wheeler claims that the novel has difficulty in ‘situating Friday in a stable category of Carib, cannibal or slave.’[5] I would instead argue that Friday’s clear purpose in the context of a Hobbesian reading of Robinson Crusoe is to demonstrate the individual’s transition from an inhabitant of the ‘state of nature’ to a more ‘civilised’ one of a governed society. Upon his arrival on the island, the non-white Friday is perceived by Crusoe to be his racial inferior in regards to his culture and racial heritage. The protagonist observes that ‘he seem’d to have something very manly in his face, and yet he had all the sweetness and softness of a European in his countenance.’[6] Crusoe instantly references the historic belief in a physical, racial divide between white and non-white cultures, implying his own ethnic superiority over Friday.[7] That being said, Friday is afforded some degree of respect by likening him to a ‘soft’ and supposedly ‘civilised’ European, although he can only go so far as to emulate the white man. Perhaps it is Friday’s likeness to the white European that allows him to effectively affiliate into Crusoe’s mock colonial island. Indeed, the local immediately conforms to his position as a second-rate citizen upon Crusoe’s island, being taught to refer to the white Crusoe as ‘master.’[8]  Arguably in this instance, a Hobbesian reading of Robinson Crusoe is not the most effective; Friday is being coerced into surrendering his freedom and liberty without fully understanding what he is losing. It is Friday’s later verbal contract with Crusoe that most resembles Hobbes’ Leviathan. Here, Friday agrees to his white master’s conditions that he ‘will not pretend to any authority here,’ thus transferring his absolute freedom and autonomy to Crusoe in order to stay living on the island.[9] Interestingly, not only does Friday’s accepting of his lower societal position resonate with traditional colonial racial hierarchies, it also corresponds to the political hierarchy discussed within the Leviathan. That is, one almighty leader presiding over the masses. Ultimately, Friday’s transition from a ‘savage,’ non-white native to a subdued citizen of Crusoe’s island demonstrates the political transition from the ‘state of nature’ to a ‘civilised’ alternative. His transition to a submissive citizen also demonstrates traditional race relations, with the white Crusoe assuming a superior political position over the non-white Friday.

            The Anglocentric rhetoric of Robinson Crusoe entails a white Englishman maintaining political control over non-white locals in a capitalist, microcosmic society. Indeed, the Hobbesian verbal contract that binds Friday to Crusoe as his political inferior is a capitalist exchange; Friday surrenders his unadulterated freedom for the ability to remain on the island. The capitalistic nature of this exchange is further exemplified through Crusoe’s bestowing of material goods upon Friday following the verbal contract- the local receives ‘three musquets […], with powder and ball’ after he surrenders his autonomy.[10] The English Crusoe’s material wealth on the island grants him a greater degree of power over his perceived subjects, reflecting the international British imperial authority. Indeed, colonial language such as ‘I might call my self king, or emperor over the whole country which I had possession of,’ and ‘my reign’ is frequently used throughout the novel.[11] The presence of such politically possessive language reinforces the notion of English superiority within Robinson Crusoe, normalising Crusoe’s position of power over the inhabitants of the island. In this context, the Englishman is fulfilling his colonial mission, claiming the island and its inhabitants for the dominion of his home nation and the British Empire. Novak maintains that ‘Crusoe survives his solitude but he is always afraid, always cautious and always desirous of abandoning his isolated condition for the pleasures of social intercourse and for the benefits of civilisation.’[12] I would instead argue that whilst Crusoe is isolated from larger civilisation, he is not in solitude. He thrives on his small island, serving as the political leader over his own understood citizens- he doesn’t desperately crave his return to a larger nation state as Novak implies. Indeed, the Englishman is afforded a greater societal position due to the limited number of inhabitants on the island, he is benefitting from pleasurable social intercourse and civilisation already. In short, Crusoe’s dominion over the island and its inhabitants is a microcosmic representation for the British Empire, as is demonstrated throughout the novel via the protagonist’s use of colonial language and material wealth.

            Whilst Robinson Crusoe can be read as a parabolic retelling of the Leviathan, it may alternatively be maintained to exploit Hobbes’ political theory to justify extreme, nationalist agendas. The political system of the island is structurally similar to Hobbes’ theory that one supreme leader presides over the masses. In this case a white Englishman is assuming superiority and ruling over his perceived inferiors. The novel consistently highlights the racial hierarchy, insinuating that Crusoe’s race and English nationality are integral to maintaining his elite position upon the island as increasingly more inhabitants arrive. Crusoe initially described Friday to have ‘a very good countenance, not a fierce and surly aspect […] and yet he had all the sweetness of an European in his countenance too.’[13] Here, the protagonist implies that there is a fundamental bodily divide between himself as a European and Friday as a local. Whilst it is noted that the pair share physical similarities, namely a ‘European softness,’ Friday remains distinct from the desirable western form- he can only mimic it.[14] Ultimately, it becomes clear that there is a clear racial hierarchy present within Robinson Crusoe, with whiteness and the English nationality being prioritised over the non-white others. This whiteness is instrumental in Crusoe’s sole gaining and maintaining of power over his peers on the island.

            Margaret Dooley notes that ‘everyone wants power and feels the lack of it; even the great folks really have very little.’[15] The critic’s understanding of power is interesting to consider in regard to the slavery present in Robinson Crusoe. Indeed, Friday seemingly gave himself to the protagonist following his rescue when he ‘kneel’d down again, […] this, it seems, was a token of swearing to be my [Crusoe’s] slave forever.’[16] Friday’s voluntary submission raises the question as to whether this self-enslavement curtails Crusoe’s own power over him as his understood owner. It becomes clear that whilst the relationship between Crusoe and Friday is portrayed as one between slave and slaver, it also fits the Hobbesian political relationship described within the Leviathan. Friday chooses to submit to Crusoe’s authority both here following his rescue from the cannibalistic ‘savages,’ and later in the aforementioned verbal contract. Friday’s submission further fits the Hobbesian political structure when one considers that the citizen is believed to ‘covenant for protection by promising obedience.’[17] Indeed, Friday’s motive for subjugating himself as a slave to Crusoe is in exchange for his rescue from the cannibals. Such an exploitative exchange identifies the problematic overlapping of slavery and the Hobbesian idealised political structure on Crusoe’s island. Perhaps it must be concluded that the manner in which Friday chose to enslave himself undermines Dooley’s assumption that ‘great folks really have very little’ power.[18] That is because whilst Crusoe didn’t acquire a slave by actively subduing Friday, he gained one nonetheless and his consequent power remains significant. Crusoe’s slaver status coupled with his Hobbesian absolute political control over Friday grants him massive power over his perceived political and social inferior. Ultimately, the bond of slavery between Friday and Crusoe is unusual because it entails an element of choice; Friday is not entirely forced to adopt the position of a slave. Friday’s apparent choice to become a slave ironically bolsters the Hobbesian ideal that the relinquishing of one’s own sovereignty to acquire protection and safety guarantees a more secure state.

            To conclude, Robinson Crusoe can generally be read as a parabolic retelling of Hobbes’ Leviathan, particularly in consideration of the exploitative and hierarchal race relations within the island. As a white Englishman, Crusoe, claims political leadership over his non-white, non-English peers, thus mirroring the almighty Leviathan figure. The protagonist further establishes himself as a western, Hobbesian figure through the promotion of exchange and quasi-capitalist ideals. Trade between Friday and Crusoe is a recurring trope within the novel. Indeed, the former repeatedly relinquishes his sovereignty through a verbal contract with Crusoe and by enslaving himself to the Englishman for protecting him from the cannibals. Just as the English nationality is prioritised throughout the novel as desirable, so is the English culture. The Western political format is portrayed as the morally superior and ‘civilised’ alternative to the non-white, non-English alternatives. Friday’s transformation from a ‘savage,’ non-white local to an inhabitant of Crusoe’s mock European society demonstrates the Anglocentric preference of the western and Hobbesian political structure and culture. That being said, the Anglocentric narrative of Defoe’s novel can limit the extent to which Robinson Crusoe can be read as a retelling of the Leviathan. Indeed, the reader remains uninformed of any detail regarding the ‘savage’ local cultures, the narrator merely assumes them to be ‘uncivilised’ in comparison to his own. Similarly, Crusoe immediately teaches Friday to refer to him as ‘master,’ undermining the Hobbesian political ideal by removing the choice from the citizen. Friday is initially coerced into becoming a second-rate citizen, he didn’t willingly participate in the active trade of sovereignty for protection. Ultimately, the racial hierarchy in Defoe’s novel can generally be taken as a fictitious modelling of Hobbes’ Leviathan, with non-white, non-English individuals adopting the position of the subjugated citizen under their white, English leader.


DuBois, W. E.B, The Souls of Black Folk, ed. Brent Hayes Edwards (Oxford: Oxford University

            Press, 2012)

Halpern, Faye, ‘In Defense of Reading Badly: The Politics of Identification in “Benito Cereno”,

            “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and Our Classrooms,’ in College English 70.6, (July 2008) 551-557

Locke, John, Second Treatise of Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration, ed. Mark Goldie

            (1689; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Melville, Herman, in Herman Melville: Pierre, Israel Potter, The Piazza Tales, The Confidence-Man,

            Uncollected Prose, Billy Budd, Sailor, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985)

Simpson, Eleanor, in ‘The Politics of Race in Benito Cereno,’ American Literature 46.4 (Jan 1975)


Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, John Locke,

Van Wyck, James M, “Benito Cereno” and the Impossibility of Civility’ in The New England

            Quarterly 88.3 (Sept 2015), 422-448

[1] Lloyd, Sharon A. and Sreedhar, Susanne, “Hobbes’s Moral and Political Philosophy”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), [accessed 02.11.18]

[2] Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651; London: Penguin Books, 1968), p. 189

[3] Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719; London: Penguin Books, 2001), p. 99

[4] Hobbes, p. 191

[5] Roxann Wheeler, ‘My Savage,’ ‘My Man:’ Racial Multiplicity in Robinson Crusoe’ ELH 62.4, (Winter 1995) 821-861, p. 821

[6] Hobbes, p. 162

[7] Rutledge M. Dennis, Social Darwinism, Scientific Racism and the Metaphysics of Race in The Journal of Negro Education, 64.3, (Summer 1995) 243-252, p. 244

[8] Defoe, p. 163

[9] Ibid. p. 201

[10] Defoe, p. 201

[11] ibid, pp. 102-03, 109

[12] Maximillian E. Novak, Robinson Crusoe’s Fear and the Search for Natural Man, Modern Philology 58.4, (May 1961) 238-245, p. 238

[13] Defoe, p. 162

[14] Ibid. p. 162

[15] Margaret Anne Dooley, The True Story of the Novel, (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996), p. 264

[16] Defoe, p. 161

[17] Lloyd, Sharon A. and Sreedhar, Susanne [accessed 06.11.2018]

[18] Dooley, p. 264

Strangers in America: The Representation of Black-Jewish Relations in American Jewish Fiction – Holly Marks

As imagined interactions between what Dutton identifies as ’two of the most maligned and downtrodden races’,[1] the relationships of Jews and blacks delineated within American Jewish fiction are necessarily shaped, albeit to varying degrees, by a shared history of marginalisation. Writing within a space of increasing cultural diversity, prominent American Jewish authors draw upon their own identities as outsiders seeking assimilation into a foreign land to raise questions surrounding the obligations we owe to the strangers in our midst. Through an examination of Bernard Malamud’s 1955 story ‘Angel Levine’,[2] Saul Bellow’s 1970 novel Mr. Sammler’s Planet,[3] and Grace Paley’s 1985 story ‘Zagrowsky Tells’,[4] the manner in which fictionalised black-Jewish relations are used as a way into thinking more generally about our relationships with fellow human beings becomes clear.

As a story which details the troubled meeting of black and white Jew, ‘Angel Levine’ belongs within a tradition of Malamudian fictions which trace encounters between seemingly incompatible strangers.[5] Whilst thetext is widely understood as a form of wisdom literature, with Sundquist describing Manischevitz’s tribulations as distinctly ‘Job-like’,[6] to consider the work within its secular context of pervasive racial segregation[7] produces an equally legitimate reading. Indeed, although Budick is justified in her comprehension of Malamud’s African American characters as present-day incarnations of Christ,[8] it is further possible to interpret the author’s delineation of blackness as a metaphor for the more universal figure of the stranger, the outsider whose offer of fellowship one may elect to deny or embrace. Within his fable-like tale of a Jew whose parochial mentality threatens to prevent his recognition of ‘a bona fide angel of God’ (159), Malamud endeavours to illustrate how human interactions are at risk of becoming irrevocably tainted by unfounded prejudices and an innate distrust of the unfamiliar. As ‘a faithful servant who had from childhood lived in the synagogues’ (159) unable to reconcile the sight of the black before him with his preconceived notions of the divine, Malamud’s protagonist does not struggle to accept the intervention of the spiritual within an otherwise secular environment, but rather the idea that salvation could be found within a figure so ostensibly alien as the African American. Demarcated by his blackness as entirely Other, the relationship of ‘the Negro’ (158) to Manischevitz is instantaneously characterised by the latter as one of total difference, with any notion of commonality between the pair through their mutual identification as Jewish entertained purely as a ‘jest’ (159). However, preoccupied with ascertaining this enigmatic character’s ‘true identity’ (160), what Manischevitz ultimately fails to recognise is the extent to which one’s identity is determined by the perceptions of others. Confined within a liminal ‘condition of probation’ (160) to existing solely as ‘what [he is] granted to be’ (159), a remark which explicitly foregrounds the significance of human relationships within the formation of one’s identity, the benevolent Levine is rendered incapable of performing the role of protector without the belief of fellow man in his capacity to do so. Rejected as an agent of redemption, the black appears condemned to eternal recognition as a disenfranchised minority, an Othering cemented by his excommunication to the marginal space of Harlem.

Although the representation of Manischevitz’s suffering remains central to readings of Malamud’s text,[9] more seldom noted by critics is the manner in which the protagonist’s plight is mirrored by the equally increasing desperation of his prospective guardian. In a reversal of the original encounter between man and angel, the obligation to pursue the stranger in need is shifted to Manischevitz, who must attain redemption through himself becoming the saviour of the morally ‘deteriorat[ing]’ (162) African American. With the broadening of his mental horizons paralleled by his traversing of a physical threshold into the ‘dark world’ (161) of black-dominated Harlem, Manischevitz must endeavour to bridge a cultural divide which has only expanded since his initial rejection of the black’s intercessions, signified by a marked shift in the language attributed to Levine from eloquent prose to heavily racialised dialect. Driven by escalating hopelessness to depart from the assumptions constituting his reality, his enriched perspective is evinced through his public acknowledgement of the ‘half-drunk Negro’ (165) as both Jew and ‘angel from God’ (166), with the performative power of this proclamation of belief[10] precipitating Levine’s liberation from an existence defined by Otherness. The profundity of Manischevitz’s enlightenment is amplified by its realisation within a place of ‘shadows’ (161), a space where ‘lights lit nothing’ (161) and yet within which the similitude of the strangers is finally illuminated. However, whilst Goffman characterises the story as ‘one of common humanity’,[11] its poignant concluding affirmation that ‘there are Jews everywhere’ (166) does not simply attest to a fundamental sameness between all men, but instead redefines Jewishness in such a way that is inclusive of diversity. Jewishness for Malamud is thereby shown to encompass something more abstract than religious or cultural identity, functioning within the text as a metaphor for the everyman and his vulnerability to human suffering. The author thus does not merely renew faith in God, as Marovitz suggests,[12] but in a human brotherhood which wholly transcends racial difference. Integral to achieving such kinship, however, is an element of a belief, a willingness to place trust in what may appear entirely alien; a fact made manifest through the text’s closing plea for the reader to abandon scepticism and ‘believe’ (166).

As an author likewise renowned for rejecting categorisation as ‘Jewish’,[13] Bellow similarly elects to situate his novel Mr. Sammler’s Planet within the multicultural space of twentieth-century New York. Widely envisioned as a promised homeland for the Jews of the diaspora,[14] the America of Bellow’s novel quickly dispels the myth of seamless cultural integration through its portrayal as a society bordering on dystopian for the eponymous Old World Jew. Indeed, the post-war propagation of America as ‘the most desirable, most exemplary of all nations’ (10) upon which Sammler ruminates in a state of amusement is positioned in stark contrast to the blatant decay, criminality, and sexual degeneracy of his urban surroundings. In a Western city whose ostensible barbarity unites it culturally with ‘an African town’ (4), it is striking that the morally problematic values of the liberalised New World are collectively embodied within the novel’s sole representation of an African American, a decision for which Bellow has received heavy criticism.[15] Although Budick defends this representation by underscoring Bellow’s rendering of a non-black youth culture ‘as morally and sexually compromised as the pickpocket’,[16] the black’s characterisation remains unique in the sense that he is denied both voice and name. Isolated from Bellow’s ‘cast of Jewish characters’ to a greater extent than Budick allows,[17] the thief retains a symbolic status within the text which demands careful consideration.

Upon an initial reading of the novel’s opening, one might understand Bellow as seeking to establish the pickpocket as the antithesis of Sammler, and thereby of civilisation. Whilst Sammler is introduced as a remnant of civilised pre-war Europe, estranged from American society by ‘his expressions suited to an Oxford common room’ (3) and ‘face of a British Museum reader’ (3), the black contrastingly epitomises the alarming primitiveness of New World values. Although ‘dressed with extraordinary elegance, as if by Mr. Fish of the West End’ (2), and described as donning costly ‘French perfume’ (7), it is emphasised that these hallmarks of European society serve only to further accentuate the supposed animality of the African body. From the perspective of Sammler, the pickpocket’s foreignness demarcates him as inherently primeval, capable only of ‘animal movement’ (37) despite his embellishment with the trappings of wealth. In reducing the thief to a ‘great black beast’ (10) preying upon white innocents with ‘the effrontery of a big animal’ (2), it is not the unassimilated Jew which Bellow frames here as occupying the role of dehumanised Other, but the African American criminal. Whilst Clayton interprets Bellow’s construction of a bigoted protagonist as a device through which the author is at liberty to vocalise his own racist beliefs,[18] the critic’s failure to fully recognise the significance of Sammler’s stunted vision is clear. Made manifest from the text’s opening line, in which the reader is alerted to the possibility of a compromised narrative perspective through the telling reference to the single ‘bushy eye’ (1, emphasis added), Bellow is conscious to stress that the vision of American society he offers has been symbolically filtered through just ‘one good eye’ (2). The narrator’s seemingly innocuous assertion that Sammler ‘in the bus […] had been seeing well enough’ (6) is thus permeated with irony, with the implication being that the racist caricature delineated by the text is the product of a deliberately one-sided viewpoint. Granted access to thoughts and judgements which remain internalised, to the troubled consciousness of a cultural outsider looking into the alien world of New York ‘as if from a different part of the universe’ (24), it is imperative that the reader understands Sammler’s social commentary as emanating from a man who cannot yet see the whole truth.

Although the contrast between Sammler and the pickpocket superficially appears striking, what emerges upon closer examination is an attitude of ambivalence towards the thief, portrayed simultaneously as ‘puma’ (39) and ‘African prince’ (10). Through the revelation that ‘illicitly – that is, against his own stable principles – [Sammler] craved a repetition [of the crime]’ (7), Bellow complicates the straightforward identification of Sammler with the civility of the Old World and the pickpocket with the antithetical barbarism of the New. Indeed, despite Sammler’s self-avowed disdain for ‘the glamour, the style, the art of criminals’ (7), and his attempts to protect the social order through invoking the authority of the law, it is evident that the pickpocket ultimately functions as a means through which this elderly Jew with his ‘civilised face’ (2) is able to vicariously experience the thrill of modern hedonism. Whilst there is legitimacy in Goffman’s assertion that ‘Sammler constructs his own gaze as that of the scientist’,[19] equally discernible within his obsessive desires to observe the minutest details of the criminal’s body is the presence of a perverse voyeuristic pleasure. Described as leaving his body ‘intensely hot […] wet’ (3) and ‘aroused’ (98), Sammler’s attraction to the pickpocket at times verges on homoerotic in its sheer physical extremity. As an object captured within the field of the old man’s vision, the thief becomes a depersonalised entity upon which Sammler is free to project his simultaneous fear of and fascination with American society, a single figure from whom all social degradation seems to emanate. Blackness thus signifies for Sammler the degeneracy to which contemporary society appears to be reverting, evidenced further through the later employment of the problematically racialised term ‘sexual niggerhood’ (133) to denote the New World’s increasingly transgressive attitudes towards sexuality.

However, in a passage whose outlandishness has lead to its renown as a central moment of the novel,[20] the power exerted by Sammler’s objectifying gaze is overthrown by the exhibition of the thief’s genitalia, an enigmatic gesture interpreted by Sammler as an attempt to ‘communicate authority’ (44) to the comparatively impotent Jew. Described as assuming a muteness akin to that of a ‘puma’ (39), the pickpocket’s warning to Sammler is framed as an act of animal intimidation, a primeval ‘lesson’ (40) which transcends civilised verbal communication. The effectiveness of this exchange is largely derived from its proximity within the narrative to Sammler’s confrontation with a representative of the contemporary student radical movements,[21] in which the connection between power and sexual potency is evoked in a similarly explicit vein. In a subversive equation of youth with supremacy, the old man is branded undeserving of authority on the basis that ‘his balls are dry […] he can’t come’ (34), and is thus rejected by the younger generation as a source of knowledge. Immersed within 1960s counterculture, a climate within which base sexual instinct is exalted above all,[22] Sammler as an ‘effete old shit’ (34) is effectively rendered ‘dead’ (34) when situated in direct opposition to the youthful pickpocket and his overt display of virility. Transfigured by the white imagination into a fascinating spectacle, an alien ‘thing’ (99) markedly distinct from ordinary human anatomy, the black phallus subsumes the individuality of the African American man, functioning within the text as a symbol of the contemporary emergence of an unrestrained animal sexuality.

When considering the problematic treatment of the pickpocket throughout the duration of Bellow’s novel, it is perhaps surprising that it is his protagonist’s sympathy alone that ultimately saves his life. As a man who has necessarily borne witness to unimaginable atrocity by virtue of his firsthand experience of the Holocaust, and who has himself derived sadistic pleasure from murder, it is striking that Sammler perceives the persecution of the man he has condemned as Other to comprise what is ultimately ‘the worst thing yet’ (241). Confronted with the familiar sight of human suffering, it is Sammler’s exposure to the ‘thick’ (243), ‘red’ (243) blood shared by men of all races that forces him to acknowledge the humanity of the figure he has hitherto characterised as a predatory beast. Whilst Crouch’s argument that this rendering of human vulnerability functions to figuratively transform the animalised thief ‘into a man’ is certainly convincing,[23] to characterise the compassion extended towards the pickpocket as stemming purely from Sammler’s recognition of the black as a fellow human being appears somewhat reductive. Indeed, with his unsuccessful attempts to address the citizenry of New York culminating in a sudden awareness of himself as ‘extremely foreign – voice, accent, syntax, manner, face, mind, everything’ (238), it is suggested that Sammler experiences a deeper sense of identification with the black pickpocket as a cultural outsider, a kinship emerging from their mutual belonging to historically oppressed groups. To expand upon Rosenthal’s observation that Sammler and the pickpocket are united by their respective ‘confrontation[s] with death’, similarly caused by their vulnerabilities to the racial prejudices of dominant society at various points in history,[24] a more subtle parallel between the pair manifests itself within the manner in which they have both fallen victim to the projections of others. Whilst the racial difference of the pickpocket renders him a symbol of contemporary cultural anxieties, Sammler’s marginal identity within the New World as Jewish Holocaust survivor is shown to have similarly eradicated his individuality, forcing him to assume the role of the omniscient ‘judge and […] priest’ (74) so desperately required by his morally challenged peers. A representative of a dead civilisation for whom to ‘speak his full mind’ is rare (186), the elderly Jew resembles the voiceless thief insofar as he is valued only as a dehumanised ‘symbol’ (74), albeit in a distinctly more positive way than the reduction of the pickpocket to an emblem of cultural depravity. Recast at the close of this Bildungsroman as the primary object of Sammler’s empathy, the pickpocket is revealed not as the anthesis of Bellow’s protagonist, but as his truest alter ego; a fact which the visually impaired Sammler is finally able to see.

The complex nature of literary black-Jewish relationships is perhaps most clearly exemplified by Paley’s ‘Zagrowsky Tells’. In its imagining of an ostensibly commonplace exchange between neighbours which evidently pertains to wider ideological issues, the text exposes the political within the personal, the broader social significance of the interactions which comprise the mundanity of one’s private life. Invited to hear the story of a man unable to reconcile his love for his black grandson with his abstract fears of the African American community, the reader shares Zagrowsky’s fictional listener’s stark awareness to the glaring incongruity of his deeply ingrained racial prejudices with his simultaneous adoration of his ‘little best friend’ (360). Whilst Goffman cites gender as a dominant factor in shaping Faith’s comparatively progressive attitudes towards issues of race, arguing that her femaleness engenders sympathy towards the ‘similarly […] marginalised African American community’,[25] a further difference between the perspectives of storyteller and listener lies within the latter’s status as American-born Jew. Vehemently opposed to a ‘colored’ (353) stranger’s accusation that he ‘kept [blacks] down three hundred years’ (354), the elder Zagrowsky denies his sharing of a collective responsibility for America’s history as oppressor on the basis of his identification with the non-white Semitic race,[26] invoking his immediate family connection to the Holocaust to align himself not with dominant society but the victimised Other. According to Zagrowsky, Jewish history thus absolves him from adherence to the egalitarian ideology espoused by the sanctimoniously portrayed ‘Queen of Right’ (357), rendering his discriminatory views akin to a trivial ‘matter of taste’ (357). What strikes the reader as ironic, however, is Zagrowsky’s simultaneous contempt for those who mimic his parochial mindset in denouncing his kin as ‘not altogether from the white race’ (353). To characterise human beings in a manner analogous to the picketers’ unceremonious ‘ZAGROWSKY IS A RACIST’ (352), Paley argues here, is to insist upon a system of categorisation whose rigidity fails to account for the contradictions inherent within human consciousness; the possession of the conflicting beliefs which enable Zagrowsky to adopt a bigoted political stance whilst nonetheless maintaining personal relationships which transcend racial difference. As an alternative to this reductive labelling, the author proposes conversation, the process by which one comes to appreciate the complexities manifest within both ourselves and others. Concluding the narrative of Zagrowsky’s telling with yet more ‘talking’ (364) as opposed to the ‘reconciliation’ proposed by Brauner, [27] Paley implicitly suggests that this story of evolving race relations is far from over, and thereby expresses an unmistakable belief in the continuation of conversation’s role in shaping future society.

Despite their respective promotions of a worldview fundamentally shaped by their identities as Jews, it remains evident that Malamud, Bellow, and Paley do not write with an exclusively Jewish readership in mind. Ultimately seeking to assuage concerns surrounding the growth of America as an interethnic space, the three writers instead envisage the union of two quintessentially marginalised groups in order to illustrate that those in some way estranged from dominant society are not so alien as we may believe.


Primary Sources

Bellow, Saul, Mr. Sammler’s Planet (London: Penguin Classics, 2007)

Malamud, Bernard, ‘Angel Levine’, from Bernard Malamud: The Complete Stories (London: Random House, 1998) pp.157-166

Paley, Grace,  ‘Zagrowsky Tells’, from Grace Paley: The Collected Stories (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 1994) pp.348-364

Secondary Sources

Austin, J.L., ‘Performative Utterances’, from The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism, ed. by Vincent B. Leitch, William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, and John McGowan (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010) pp.1289-1301

Brauner, David, Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015)

Chametzky, Jules, Felstiner, John, Flanzbaum, Hilene, and Hellerstein, Kathryn, Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000)

Clayton, John Jacob, Saul Bellow: In Defense of Man (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968)

Cronin, Gloria L., ‘Searching the Narrative Gap: Authorial Self-Irony and the Problematic Discussion of Western Misogyny in Mr. Sammler’s Planet’, from Saul Bellow: A Mosaic, ed. by L.H. Goldman, Gloria L. Cronin, and Ada Aharoni (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1992) pp.97-122

Crouch, Stanley, ‘Introduction’, from Mr. Sammler’s Planet (London: Penguin Classics, 2007) pp.vii-xxiv

Davis, Philip, Bernard Malamud: A Writer’s Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

Dutton, R.R., Saul Bellow (Farmington Hills: Twayne Publishers, 1982)

Franco, Dean J., Race, Rights & Recognition: Jewish American Literature Since 1969 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012)

Goffman, Ethan,‘Between Guilt and Affluence: The Jewish Gaze and the Black Thief in “Mr. Sammler’s Planet”’, from Contemporary Literature, Vol. 38, No.4 (1997) pp.705-725

Goffman, Ethan, ‘Grace Paley’s Faith: The Journey Homeward, the Journey Forward’, from MELUS, Vol. 15, No.1 (2000) pp.197-208

Goffman, Ethan, Imagining Each Other: Blacks and Jews in Contemporary American Literature  (New York: State University of New York Press, 2000)

Harap, Louis, Creative Awakening: The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Literature, 1900-1940s (Santa Barbara: Greenwood Press, 1987)

Marovitz, Sanford E., Companion to Literature: Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story, ed. by Abby H.P. Werlock (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009)

Meeter, Glenn, Philip Roth and Bernard Malamud: A Critical Essay (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968)

Miller Budick, Emily, Blacks and Jews in Literary Conversation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Quayum, M.A., Saul Bellow and American Transcendentalism (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2004)

Rosenthal, Regine, ‘Memory and the Holocaust: Mr Sammler’s Planet and the Bellarosa Connection’, from Saul Bellow at Seventy-Five: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. by Gerhard Bach (Tübigen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 1991) pp.81-92

Spevack, Edmund, ‘Racial Conflict and Multiculturalism: Bernard Malamud’s The Tenants’, from MELUS, Vol. 22, No.3 (1997) pp.31-54

Sundquist, Eric J., Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005)

Wirth-Nesher, Hana, “Who Put the Shma in Shmattas?” Multilingual Jewish American Writing’, from MELUS, Vol. 37, No.2 (2012) pp.47-58

[1] R.R. Dutton, Saul Bellow (Farmington Hills: Twayne Publishers, 1982) p.161

[2] Bernard Malamud, ‘Angel Levine’, from Bernard Malamud: The Complete Stories (London: Random House, 1998). All subsequent references are to page numbers in this edition and are made within parentheses.

[3] Saul Bellow, Mr. Sammler’s Planet (London: Penguin Classics, 2007). All subsequent references are to page numbers in this edition and are made within parentheses.

[4] Grace Paley, ‘Zagrowsky Tells’, from Grace Paley: The Collected Stories (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 1994). All subsequent references are to page numbers in this edition and are made within parentheses.

[5] Philip Davis, Bernard Malamud: A Writer’s Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)p.160

[6] Eric J. Sundquist, Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005) p.384

[7] Edmund Spevack, ‘Racial Conflict and Multiculturalism: Bernard Malamud’s The Tenants’, from MELUS, Vol. 22, No.3 (1997) p.45

[8] Emily Miller Budick, Blacks and Jews in Literary Conversation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) p.14

[9] See, for instance, Glenn Meeter, Philip Roth and Bernard Malamud: A Critical Essay (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1968) pp.14-15

[10] J.L. Austin, ’Performative Utterances’, from The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism, ed. by Vincent B. Leitch, William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, and John McGowan (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010) pp.1289-1301

[11] Ethan Goffman, Imagining Each Other: Blacks and Jews in Contemporary American Literature  (New York: State University of New York Press, 2000) p.70

[12] Sanford E. Marovitz, Companion to Literature: Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story, ed. by Abby H.P. Werlock (New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009) p.30

[13] Louis Harap, Creative Awakening: The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Literature, 1900-1940s (Santa Barbara: Greenwood Press, 1987)p.3

[14] Jules Chametzky, John Felstiner, Hilene Flanzbaum, and Kathryn Hellerstein, Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000) p.1

[15] Dean J. Franco, Race, Rights & Recognition: Jewish American Literature Since 1969 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012) p.3

[16] Budick, p.152

[17] Ibid, p.152

[18] John Jacob Clayton, Saul Bellow: In Defense of Man (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1968) p.256

[19] Ethan Goffman, ‘Between Guilt and Affluence: The Jewish Gaze and the Black Thief in “Mr. Sammler’s Planet”’, from Contemporary Literature,Vol. 38, No.4 (1997) p.713

[20] Gloria L. Cronin, ‘Searching the Narrative Gap: Authorial Self-Irony and the Problematic Discussion of Western Misogyny in Mr. Sammler’s Planet’, from Saul Bellow: A Mosaic, ed. by L.H. Goldman, Gloria L. Cronin, and Ada Aharoni (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1992) p.114

[21] Franco, p.2

[22] M.A. Quayum, Saul Bellow and American Transcendentalism (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2004) p.145

[23] Stanley Crouch, ‘Introduction’, from Mr. Sammler’s Planet (London: Penguin Classics, 2007) p.xxiv

[24] Regine Rosenthal, ‘Memory and the Holocaust: Mr Sammler’s Planet and the Bellarosa Connection’, from Saul Bellow at Seventy-Five: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. by Gerhard Bach (Tübigen: Gunter Narr Verlag, 1991) p.86

[25] Ethan Goffman, ‘Grace Paley’s Faith: The Journey Homeward, the Journey Forward’, from MELUS, Vol. 15, No.1 (2000) p.200

[26] Hana Wirth-Nesher, ‘“Who Put the Shma in Shmattas?” Multilingual Jewish American Writing’, from MELUS, Vol. 37, No.2 (2012) p.51

[27] David Brauner, Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015) p.109