Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 49. Abraham Cahan; The Rise of David Levinsky

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXXI. Non-English Writings I

§ 49. Abraham Cahan; The Rise of David Levinsky

At the risk of being facetious it may be said here that the best Yiddish novel is one written in English. Abraham Cahan’s The Rise of David Levinsky is a better reflection of Jewish life in American surroundings than all American-Yiddish fiction put together. The book is especially interesting to Americans since the author sets out with the manifest purpose of taking the American reader by the hand and showing him through all the nooks of the Ghetto. This motive, with the author’s genuine literary talent, a most felicitous style, a realistic treatment that is both engaging and convincing, makes The Rise of David Levinsky a monumental work, and surely the most remarkable contribution by an immigrant to the American novel. Cahan’s work as editor of The Jewish Daily Forward and as literary critic, his novel, and his subsequent attack upon American fiction constitute a bold challenge to American novelists.