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date: 15 June 2024

Roth, Henrylocked

Roth, Henrylocked

  • Lani Wolf


Henry Roth, one of the twentieth century's most important Jewish authors, is known primarily for his first novel and masterpiece, Call It Sleep (1934), the story of a young Jewish boy named David Schearl growing up in a New York ghetto in the years before World War I. Sixty years would pass before the publication of his next major work, the first volume of Mercy of a Rude Stream, intended to be a series of six novels portraying the artistic, sexual, spiritual, and emotional development from childhood to old age of the protagonist, Ira Stigman. Both Call It Sleep and Mercy of a Rude Stream portray the immigrant experience, specifically that of the eastern European Jew, as an attempt to escape the trauma of one's social and familial environments. Both are also intensely psychological novels, exploring the development of an extremely perceptive and sensitive protagonist seeking enlightenment and personal redemption. Perhaps most importantly, both are great acts of memory and confession, not only for the protagonists but for the author himself.


  • North American Literatures

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