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Everlasting Fudge

Theo Tait: The Difficult Fiction of Cynthia Ozick

19 May 2005
The Bear Boy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Weidenfeld, 310 pp., £12.99, March 2005, 0 297 84808 9
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... CynthiaOzick has been described as one of America’s best writers, one of its leading women of letters, the Athena of its literary pantheon. She has won prestigious awards by the armful: she was recently ...
15 April 1982
Blind Understanding 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 159 pp., £7.50, March 1982, 0 09 146990 2
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Fifty Stories 
by Kay Boyle.
Penguin, 648 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 14 005922 9
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Unsolicited Gift 
by Jacqueline Simms.
Chatto, 151 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 7011 2616 7
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Nellie without Hugo 
by Janet Hobhouse.
Cape, 192 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 224 01969 4
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Levitation: Five Fictions 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Secker, 157 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 436 25482 4
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... discussion’ novel about, say, Religious Doubt – a prolonged meditation, in fictional form, on the subject, this time, of Marital Doubt. ‘She believed in the uses of fantasy,’ writes CynthiaOzick of the charmingly earnest heroine of the most extended of the five inventive, flamboyant fictions collected under the title Levitation. Puttermesser (‘Butterknife’) is introduced to us in ...

Ozick’s No

John Lanchester

4 February 1988
The Messiah of Stockholm 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Deutsch, 144 pp., £9.95, November 1987, 9780233981420
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The Birds of the Innocent Wood 
by Deirdre Madden.
Faber, 147 pp., £9.95, January 1988, 0 571 14880 8
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The Coast of Bohemia 
by Zdena Tomin.
Century, 201 pp., £11.95, October 1987, 0 09 168490 0
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... CynthiaOzick’s critical writing everywhere expresses a ferocious distaste for the purely aesthetic. The central idea in Art and Ardour, her collection of critical essays, concerns the conflict between the ...

Other Things

J.I.M. Stewart

2 February 1984
Soor Hearts 
by Robert Alan Jamieson.
Paul Harris, 166 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 86228 072 9
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The Life and Loves of a She-Devil 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 240 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 9780340332283
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by Raymond Carver.
Collins, 230 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 00 222790 8
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The Cannibal Galaxy 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Secker, 162 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 436 35483 7
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The Collected Works of Jane Bowles 
introduced by Truman Capote.
Peter Owen, 476 pp., £10.95, January 1984, 0 7206 0613 6
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Let it come down 
by Paul Bowles.
Peter Owen, 318 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 7206 0614 4
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... that her academic employments have included that of ‘fiction workshop instructor’. Habituated to urging upon ranks of dull apprentices the importance of keeping language lively on every page, CynthiaOzick has conceivably allowed herself to become her own pupil, with unfortunate results. Pupillage at any stage of her career is inconceivable of Jane Bowles. Two Serious Ladies, a novel begun when ...


John Lanchester

21 October 1993
United States 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 1298 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 233 98832 7
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What Henry James Knew, and Other Essays on Writers 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Cape, 363 pp., £12.99, June 1993, 0 224 03329 8
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Sentimental Journeys 
by Joan Didion.
HarperCollins, 319 pp., £15, January 1993, 0 00 255146 2
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... by other media, other forms of attention, the novel’s audience is bound to – well, if not necessarily to dwindle, then at least to change its expectations for the form, and its demands of it. CynthiaOzick’s way of engaging with these questions is to ignore them – to ignore them with a pointed, Bacchantic ferocity. She is a hierophant of literature as High Culture; and her worship of ...


Christopher Hitchens: The Salman Rushdie Acid Test

24 February 1994
... pluralist Islamic culture – this time against Christian medievalism – and the Ayatollah’s attempt to define Islam as a theocratic uniformity. (In a rather mad piece in a recent New Yorker, CynthiaOzick compared Rushdie to ‘a little Israel’, surrounded as he was by ravening Muslim wolves, and also remarked on the evident expansion of his waistline since the last time she saw him in public ...
31 October 1996
Omens of the Millennium 
by Harold Bloom.
Fourth Estate, 256 pp., £15.99, October 1996, 1 85702 555 5
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... about the whole of literature, Biblical and secular, and from his earliest writings there have always been moments when the tone grew prophetic and others when authority modulated into chutzpah. CynthiaOzick, in a prescient essay written 17 years ago, emphasised the Gnostic-Kabbalistic element already manifest in his work, and set against it her version of a good mainstream Judaism that had no time ...

The Devilish God

David Wheatley: T.S. Eliot

1 November 2001
Words Alone: The Poet T.S. Eliot 
by Denis Donoghue.
Yale, 326 pp., £17.95, January 2001, 0 300 08329 7
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Adam’s Curse: Reflections on Religion and Literature 
by Denis Donoghue.
Notre Dame, 178 pp., £21.50, May 2001, 0 268 02009 4
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... The anti-semitic charge was squatting awkwardly on Eliot’s reputation long before Julius’s book, but old habits of deference died hard, even among his detractors. In ‘T.S. Eliot at 101’, CynthiaOzick remembers swallowing ‘without protest’ the nasty bits of Eliot’s poems as an undergraduate and the long, slow disenchantment that followed, but manages to end on a note of wistful ...

Something Unsafe about Books

Seth Colter Walls: William Gass

9 May 2013
Middle C 
by William Gass.
Knopf, 416 pp., £19, March 2013, 978 0 307 70163 3
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... no shortage of plot – more, certainly, than there was in The Tunnel – there’s also plenty in the novel to shoot that plot full of holes. So far, the novel’s most thoughtful reviewers – CynthiaOzick in the New York Times and Michael Gorra in the New York Review of Books – have taken care to talk about both the story-strands and the anxieties about story in Middle C. But they have shied ...

The Light Waters of Amnion

Dan Jacobson: Bruno Schulz

1 July 1999
The Collected Works of Bruno Schulz 
edited by Jerzy Ficowski.
Picador, 582 pp., £50, December 1998, 0 330 34783 7
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... at the climax to the play Adela, the servant girl, raises a revolver and fires it point blank (à la Karl Günther) at the temple of the hero/author. Since at least one well-known American critic (CynthiaOzick) has referred offhandedly to Adela as a ‘proto-Nazi’, why should she not be put to dramatic use in this way? In fact, there are no marching feet in the stories; and the Adela who appears in ...

They don’t say that about Idi Amin

Andrew O’Hagan: Bellow Whinges

6 January 2011
Saul Bellow: Letters 
edited by Benjamin Taylor.
Viking, 571 pp., $35, November 2010, 978 0 670 02221 2
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... have avoided it in the case of Saul Bellow, whose opinions, we now see in context, tended always to be loosed like arrows in defence of his own self-serving prejudice. By this point, writing to CynthiaOzick, he hated ‘Fourth-Estate’ playboys, bohemians, nihilists, ‘who consume falsehoods as they do fast food’. I think he meant by this people who wrote for the Nation and hadn’t yet ...

The crematorium is a zoo

Joshua Cohen: H.G. Adler

3 March 2016
The Wall 
by H.G. Adler, translated by Peter Filkins.
Modern Library, 672 pp., £12.99, September 2015, 978 0 8129 8315 9
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... characters to attain a sense of realism – but that doesn’t mean that Auschwitz was a hoax, or that Israel is illegitimate. Writers who survived don’t seem to be allowed the same licence as CynthiaOzick or Martin Amis, who’ve imagined their Shoahs in comparative peace. The lasting legacy of Holocaust literature seems to be its utility as a template for contemporary sagas of victimisation, be ...

Phantom Bids

Nicholas Blincoe

14 August 2014
... can be put in the credit column for the Oslo Accords, alongside the fact that I can write ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinians’ without getting into the kind of argument I once had with the novelist CynthiaOzick, who insisted no such people existed. Finally, we had a Palestinian Authority, not a government-in-waiting but something closer to a wartime civilian administration. The debit column is far ...

Smashing the Teapots

Jacqueline Rose

23 January 1997
Virginia Woolf 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 722 pp., £20, September 1996, 0 7011 6507 3
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... the boat to Ceylon after receiving the letter in which she just about accepted his proposal? In her review of Quentin Bell’s 1972 biography, ‘Mrs Virginia Woolf – a Madwoman and Her Nurse’, CynthiaOzick reads the Woolf marriage as the story of the Jew desperate for assimilation. Only someone that eager to belong, so ritually and historically excluded from belonging, would be willing to take on ...

Uncle Zindel

Gabriele Annan

2 September 1982
The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer 
Cape, 610 pp., £10.50, July 1982, 0 224 02024 2Show More
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... internationally read: but for the Gentile reader – as well as for emancipated Jews – there must be an element of strangeness and exoticism in his work. You could call Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and CynthiaOzick Jewish writers, but they are also American writers. Singer never attempts to present a Gentile sensibility; in this whole volume there are hardly any Gentiles and only one with more than a walk ...

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