By Efraim Sicher
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Extra info for Beyond Marginality: Anglo-Jewish Literature After the Holocaust
The East End as he had known it had been bombed into rubble. Those of us who survived and were still young were moving eagerly into the universe of the future and had no wish to look back at the retreating past. 5 That nothing could be the same again was the conclusion which hit with equal driving force Emanuel Litvinoff, Arnold Wesker, Bernard Kops and Harold Pinter. In his appraisal of Litvinoff's two collections of verse The Untried Soldier (1942) and A Crown for Cain (1946), East End Writers I 35 Dannie Abse claims Litvinoff as the first avowedly Jewish poet in England, a war poet's voice full of protest, death, frustration and the pity of it all, but addressed to the Jewish predicament.
Yet an extraordinary number of talented Jews became prominent in literature and the arts, several of them major figures in modern British culture. ANGLO-jEWISH WRITING BEYOND MARGINALITY The breakthrough of the Anglo-Jewish novelists, playwrights and poets in the 1950s has been compared with that of the GermanJewish writers of the Weimar Republic or the American-Jewish writers of the 1930s,13 but with the difference that they wrote within the new discovery of ethnicity, working-class roots and social commitment.
Being "Chicago Semite Viennese" must be turned to advantage. 36 Beyond Marginality Litvinoff admits to being wholly concerned with the destruction of European Jewryl0 and his novel The Lost Europeans (1959) describes the experience of a Jew in sleazy postwar Berlin, while The Man Next Door (1968) probes the workings of the anti-Semitic mind. A 1956 visit to Moscow marked the beginning of Litvinoff's involvement on behalf of Soviet Jews (he edits the campaign newsletter Insight) and when he turned to the revolutionary connections of the Jewish East End in A Death Out of Season (1973), a novel about the 1911 anarchist siege of Sidney Street, it was with the perspective that the Revolution had not solved the problems of the world's poor nor of the Jews and that the postwar promise of socialism had not lived up to expectations.