The Chosen | Critical Review by Times Literary Supplement

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of The Chosen.
This section contains 342 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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Critical Review by Times Literary Supplement

SOURCE: "Trying to Be Jewish," in Times Literary Supplement, August 31, 1967, p. 777.

In the following excerpt, the critic gives a favorable assessment of The Chosen.

Three more novels [Potok's The Chosen, Martin Yoseloff's A Time to be Young, and Charles Elliott's The Minority Man] to add in one way or another to the growing literature of Jewish self-exploration and self-definition, personal and national….

By far the most distinguished of the three, and that in a totally unexpected and unfashionable way, is The Chosen. We are back in New York, this time during and just after the last war. But instead of the search for a new identity amid the slipping faith and lax observance of Murray Ziegler's suburbia there is the fanaticism of the far-out Hasidic sect, which has survived almost unchanged since its establishment in eighteenth-century Poland. It is the story of a friendship between two boys: Reuven, the son of a kindly Orthodox Zionist teacher, and the brilliant Danny, whose father is a fiercely fanatical Hasidic rabbi, whose only verbal contact with his son (according to a traditional Hasidic method of upbringing) is during their Talmudic discussions. The differing claims of their backgrounds upon the boys, the difficulties of a friendship between two orthodoxies, and Danny's fight for release from his inherited role as his father's successor is told within the tight context of total religious belief; the author is himself a rabbi.

Both boys are serious scholars, brilliant and devout, devoted to their basic faith and to their families in a way which makes any rebellion hideously painful. Nothing could be farther from the freedom of Greenwich Village than Danny's anguished struggle to escape from choking orthodoxy without breaking his father's heart. The immediate concerns of the book are totally unfashionable: but the boys' intellectual voracity for symbolic logic, Freud and Talmud are made to seem far more relevant and exciting than anything in Charles Elliott's Libya. The climax of the book, Rabbi Saunders's emotional agony for his son's soul, has a tragic poignancy and exhilaration.

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This section contains 342 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Times Literary Supplement
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