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Why there is no Jewish Narnia

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  • ernestsdavis
    There is a moderately interesting article, Why there is no Jewish Narnia in the new magazine The Jewish Review of Books
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 27, 2010
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      There is a moderately interesting article, "Why there is no Jewish Narnia" in the new magazine "The Jewish Review of Books"
      http://www.jewishreviewofbooks.com/publications/detail/why-there-is-no-jewish-narnia
      by Michael Weingrad. (Overall the articles in the magazine are quite good, for those interested in Jewish books.)

      I don't generally find explanations of "Why <ethnic group> is so
      <over/under>represented in <activity>" very convincing, and this is no exception, but he does raise some interesting points.

      Also, he discusses (with at most lukewarm enthusiasm) two fantasies by Jewish authors that I had not heard of: "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman and "The Water between the Worlds" ("Ha-mayim she-bayn ha-olamot") by Hagar Yanai. The latter does not seem to have been translated yet from Hebrew.

      -- Ernie
    • dale nelson
      This looks a bit more than moderately interesting! Thanks. Having skimmed it, I didn t see any references to the largely Jewish invention of superhero
      Message 2 of 8 , Feb 27, 2010
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        This looks a bit more than "moderately" interesting!  Thanks.  Having skimmed it, I didn't see any references to the largely Jewish invention of superhero comics; but I believe that Superman, Batman, Spider-man, The Mighty Thor, Fantastic Four, and a host of others were created by Jews.

        Dale Nelson


        From: ernestsdavis <davise@...>
        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Sat, February 27, 2010 9:32:10 AM
        Subject: [mythsoc] Why there is no Jewish Narnia

         

        There is a moderately interesting article, "Why there is no Jewish Narnia" in the new magazine "The Jewish Review of Books"
        http://www.jewishre viewofbooks. com/publications /detail/why- there-is- no-jewish- narnia
        by Michael Weingrad. (Overall the articles in the magazine are quite good, for those interested in Jewish books.)

        I don't generally find explanations of "Why <ethnic group> is so
        <over/under> represented in <activity>" very convincing, and this is no exception, but he does raise some interesting points.

        Also, he discusses (with at most lukewarm enthusiasm) two fantasies by Jewish authors that I had not heard of: "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman and "The Water between the Worlds" ("Ha-mayim she-bayn ha-olamot") by Hagar Yanai. The latter does not seem to have been translated yet from Hebrew.

        -- Ernie


      • Grace Monk
        Also, no mention of Gaiman and Chabon and Kushner and others. Also, don t completely agree with definitions of fantasy and science fiction. So, not loving the
        Message 3 of 8 , Feb 27, 2010
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          Also, no mention of Gaiman and Chabon and Kushner and others. Also, don't completely agree with definitions of fantasy and science fiction. So, not loving the article, but finding it interesting in its wrongheadedness...
          Grace Walker Monk

           
          On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 11:11 AM, dale nelson <extollager2006@...> wrote:
           

          This looks a bit more than "moderately" interesting!  Thanks.  Having skimmed it, I didn't see any references to the largely Jewish invention of superhero comics; but I believe that Superman, Batman, Spider-man, The Mighty Thor, Fantastic Four, and a host of others were created by Jews.

          Dale Nelson


          From: ernestsdavis <davise@...>
          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Sat, February 27, 2010 9:32:10 AM
          Subject: [mythsoc] Why there is no Jewish Narnia

           

          There is a moderately interesting article, "Why there is no Jewish Narnia" in the new magazine "The Jewish Review of Books"
          http://www.jewishre viewofbooks. com/publications /detail/why- there-is- no-jewish- narnia
          by Michael Weingrad. (Overall the articles in the magazine are quite good, for those interested in Jewish books.)

          I don't generally find explanations of "Why <ethnic group> is so
          <over/under> represented in <activity>" very convincing, and this is no exception, but he does raise some interesting points.

          Also, he discusses (with at most lukewarm enthusiasm) two fantasies by Jewish authors that I had not heard of: "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman and "The Water between the Worlds" ("Ha-mayim she-bayn ha-olamot") by Hagar Yanai. The latter does not seem to have been translated yet from Hebrew.

          -- Ernie



        • David Bratman
          The line about I cannot think of a single major fantasy writer who is Jewish stopped me cold. Anyone who doesn t consider Neil Gaiman a major fantasy writer
          Message 4 of 8 , Feb 27, 2010
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            The line about "I cannot think of a single major fantasy writer who is Jewish" stopped me cold.  Anyone who doesn't consider Neil Gaiman a major fantasy writer should not be discussing the subject.

            Also in there along with Chabon and Kushner should be Lisa Goldstein and Jane Yolen, both of whom have written explicitly Jewish fantasies.  Yolen's "The Devil's Arithmetic" might go under Weingrad's larger "supernatural" category, but Goldstein's "The Red Magician" is a golden example of how to put Ashkenazic Jewish culture and mythology into a fantasy novel.

            I'll accept the distinction between fantasy and supernatural literature, and I see nothing to complain about in the differentiation of fantasy from science fiction, and I do appreciate the observation that Judiasm and Christianity have profoundly different theological structures, a point insufficiently appreciated by those who throw the term "Judeo-Christian" around, but I still think that his equation of Judaism with SF and Christianity with fantasy gets both religions wrong.  On the Jewish side, I will say just one word in response to the claim that Judaism is not very amenable to magic and myth, and that word is: Kabbalah.


            -----Original Message-----
            From: Grace Monk
            Sent: Feb 27, 2010 1:02 PM
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Why there is no Jewish Narnia



            Also, no mention of Gaiman and Chabon and Kushner and others. Also, don't completely agree with definitions of fantasy and science fiction. So, not loving the article, but finding it interesting in its wrongheadedness...
            Grace Walker Monk

             
            On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 11:11 AM, dale nelson <extollager2006@...> wrote:
             

            This looks a bit more than "moderately" interesting!  Thanks.  Having skimmed it, I didn't see any references to the largely Jewish invention of superhero comics; but I believe that Superman, Batman, Spider-man, The Mighty Thor, Fantastic Four, and a host of others were created by Jews.

            Dale Nelson


            From: ernestsdavis <davise@...>
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Sat, February 27, 2010 9:32:10 AM
            Subject: [mythsoc] Why there is no Jewish Narnia

             

            There is a moderately interesting article, "Why there is no Jewish Narnia" in the new magazine "The Jewish Review of Books"
            http://www.jewishre viewofbooks. com/publications /detail/why- there-is- no-jewish- narnia
            by Michael Weingrad. (Overall the articles in the magazine are quite good, for those interested in Jewish books.)

            I don't generally find explanations of "Why <ethnic group> is so
            <over/under> represented in <activity>" very convincing, and this is no exception, but he does raise some interesting points.

            Also, he discusses (with at most lukewarm enthusiasm) two fantasies by Jewish authors that I had not heard of: "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman and "The Water between the Worlds" ("Ha-mayim she-bayn ha-olamot") by Hagar Yanai. The latter does not seem to have been translated yet from Hebrew.

            -- Ernie





          • Alana Vincent
            *pokes head up from post-PhD finishing haze* I saw this a few days ago and have been meaning to write a response. Mostly, he seems to be very, very narrowly
            Message 5 of 8 , Feb 27, 2010
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              *pokes head up from post-PhD finishing haze*

              I saw this a few days ago and have been meaning to write a response. Mostly, he seems to be very, very narrowly defining fantasy as What Tolkien and Lewis Wrote--or, slightly more broadly, as high medieval/sword and sorcery type stuff (which is great, but a) drawing on a cultural system in which Judaism is the perpetual Other, and b) not really where the interesting innovations in the genre have been coming from in the past several decades). 

              In other words, his argument is a tautology. Jews don't write fantasy because fantasy is not written by Jews; if a book becomes distinctively Jewish, it has automatically removed itself from the fantasy genre.

              This does open up a really interesting conversation about cultural inheritance, but I don't think that it's a conversation that would be productive with the author of that article.

              /A

              On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 6:52 PM, David Bratman <dbratman@...> wrote:
               

              The line about "I cannot think of a single major fantasy writer who is Jewish" stopped me cold.  Anyone who doesn't consider Neil Gaiman a major fantasy writer should not be discussing the subject.

              Also in there along with Chabon and Kushner should be Lisa Goldstein and Jane Yolen, both of whom have written explicitly Jewish fantasies.  Yolen's "The Devil's Arithmetic" might go under Weingrad's larger "supernatural" category, but Goldstein's "The Red Magician" is a golden example of how to put Ashkenazic Jewish culture and mythology into a fantasy novel.

              I'll accept the distinction between fantasy and supernatural literature, and I see nothing to complain about in the differentiation of fantasy from science fiction, and I do appreciate the observation that Judiasm and Christianity have profoundly different theological structures, a point insufficiently appreciated by those who throw the term "Judeo-Christian" around, but I still think that his equation of Judaism with SF and Christianity with fantasy gets both religions wrong.  On the Jewish side, I will say just one word in response to the claim that Judaism is not very amenable to magic and myth, and that word is: Kabbalah.


              -----Original Message-----
              From: Grace Monk
              Sent: Feb 27, 2010 1:02 PM
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Why there is no Jewish Narnia



              Also, no mention of Gaiman and Chabon and Kushner and others. Also, don't completely agree with definitions of fantasy and science fiction. So, not loving the article, but finding it interesting in its wrongheadedness...
              Grace Walker Monk

               
              On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 11:11 AM, dale nelson <extollager2006@...> wrote:
               

              This looks a bit more than "moderately" interesting!  Thanks.  Having skimmed it, I didn't see any references to the largely Jewish invention of superhero comics; but I believe that Superman, Batman, Spider-man, The Mighty Thor, Fantastic Four, and a host of others were created by Jews.

              Dale Nelson


              From: ernestsdavis <davise@...>
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Sat, February 27, 2010 9:32:10 AM
              Subject: [mythsoc] Why there is no Jewish Narnia

               

              There is a moderately interesting article, "Why there is no Jewish Narnia" in the new magazine "The Jewish Review of Books"
              http://www.jewishre viewofbooks. com/publications /detail/why- there-is- no-jewish- narnia
              by Michael Weingrad. (Overall the articles in the magazine are quite good, for those interested in Jewish books.)

              I don't generally find explanations of "Why <ethnic group> is so
              <over/under> represented in <activity>" very convincing, and this is no exception, but he does raise some interesting points.

              Also, he discusses (with at most lukewarm enthusiasm) two fantasies by Jewish authors that I had not heard of: "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman and "The Water between the Worlds" ("Ha-mayim she-bayn ha-olamot") by Hagar Yanai. The latter does not seem to have been translated yet from Hebrew.

              -- Ernie








              --
              Alana M. Vincent BFA MA
              Centre for Literature, Theology and the Arts
              University of Glasgow

              a.vincent.1@...
              alana.vincent@...
            • WendellWag@aol.com
              In a message dated 2/27/2010 1:06:20 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, gmariemonk@gmail.com writes: Also, no mention of Gaiman and Chabon and Kushner and others.
              Message 6 of 8 , Feb 27, 2010
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                In a message dated 2/27/2010 1:06:20 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, gmariemonk@... writes:
                Also, no mention of Gaiman and Chabon and Kushner and others.
                 
                And this brings up another problem.  What do we consider Gaiman to be influenced by?  The Judaism that his parents didn't practice?  The Scientology that they did practice?  The Anglicanism that he might have absorbed from the elementary and secondary schools he attended?  The Catholicism that he might have noticed in the books of writers like Tolkien or Chesterton that he read as a child?  And I can show that the influences on most of the writers that could be considered in this way are equally complex.
                 
                Wendell Wagner
              • Alana Abbott
                Gaiman also writes a great deal about being influenced by the various mythologies he read -- at least, I ve read his discussions about mythology and the tales
                Message 7 of 8 , Feb 27, 2010
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                  Gaiman also writes a great deal about being influenced by the various mythologies he read -- at least, I've read his discussions about mythology and the tales he grew up on far more than I've read about other more modern religious influences (which I've never seen in his own words, but I've not read every word he's ever written, certainly!). 

                  Chabon has written a lovely piece on how enamored he was of Norse mythology as a boy as well.

                  -Alana

                  On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 4:52 PM, <WendellWag@...> wrote:
                   

                  In a message dated 2/27/2010 1:06:20 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, gmariemonk@... writes:
                   
                  And this brings up another problem.  What do we consider Gaiman to be influenced by?  The Judaism that his parents didn't practice?  The Scientology that they did practice?  The Anglicanism that he might have absorbed from the elementary and secondary schools he attended?  The Catholicism that he might have noticed in the books of writers like Tolkien or Chesterton that he read as a child?  And I can show that the influences on most of the writers that could be considered in this way are equally complex.
                   
                  Wendell Wagner

                  __._,_



                  --
                  Alana Joli Abbott, Freelance Writer and Editor (http://www.virgilandbeatrice.com)
                  Author of "Nomi's Wish" (http://coyotewildmag.com/2008/august/abbott_nomis_wish.html), featured in Coyote Wild Magazine
                  Contributor to Origins Award winner, Serenity Adventures: http://tinyurl.com/serenity-adventures
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                • Jason Fisher
                  You could reach it by way of a blind alley in the Jewish ghettos of Prague in the early years of the 20th century. :) ... Another excellent
                  Message 8 of 8 , Feb 28, 2010
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                    You could reach it by way of a blind alley in the Jewish ghettos of Prague in the early years of the 20th century. :)

                    > [David Bratman:] Also in there along with Chabon and Kushner should be
                    > Lisa Goldstein and Jane Yolen, both of whom have written explicitly
                    > Jewish fantasies.

                    So, I tipped my hand above: for something a bit older, and given that I agree with these further qualifications:

                    > I'll accept the distinction between fantasy and supernatural literature, and I
                    > see nothing to complain about in the differentiation of fantasy from science
                    > fiction, [...]. On the Jewish side, I will say just one word in response to the
                    > claim that Judaism is not very amenable to magic and myth, and that word
                    > is: Kabbalah.

                    Another excellent supernatural/mythological fantasy on an uniquely Jewish subject is Gustav Meyrink's moody masterpiece, "The Golem" (1915; first translated into English, 1928). If you haven't read it, give it a try. It's very weird and stream-of-consciousness; I have a friend who couldn't get through it, but I loved it. It may remind you of Charles Williams, as it did me.

                    Jason
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