Call It Sleep Essay

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In the following excerpt, Kazin explores Roth's depiction of Jewish immigrants, particularly their language, as they adjust to their new home in New York in Call it Sleep.

Call It Sleep is the most profound novel of Jewish life that I have ever read by an American. It is a work of high art, written with the full resources of modernism, which subtly interweaves an account of the worlds of the city gutter and the tenement cellar with a story of the overwhelming love between a mother and son. It brings together the darkness and light of Jewish immigrant life before the First World War as experienced by a very young boy, really a child, who depends on his imagination alone to fend off a world so immediately hostile that the hostility begins with his own father.

Henry Roth's novel was first published in 1934, at the bottom of...

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This section contains 2,185 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Call It Sleep Study Guide
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