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In its first appearance in 1892, Israel Zangwill's Children of the Ghetto created a sensation in both England and America, becoming the first Anglo-Jewish bestseller and establishing Zangwill as the literary voice of Anglo-Jewry. A vel set in late-19th-century London, Children of the Ghetto gave an inside look into an immigrant community that was almost as mysterious to the more established middle-class Jews of Britain as to the n-Jewish population, providing an analysis of a generation caught between the ghetto and modern British life. Children of the Ghetto remains a landmark work of modern Jewish fiction as well as an essential late Victorian text. As the first Jewish East End vel, the book ignited an important 20th-century genre. In a period that saw the development of the working-class vel and the vel of spiritual malaise, Children of the Ghetto encompassed both. The vel conveys details of life in the ghetto and explores a spiritual crisis among young Jews at a time when a questioning of beliefs appeared in Christian vels as well. Zangwill's realistic portrayal intrigued middle-class Jews and elicited stalgia in those who started out in the East End. Although a vel about British Jews, Children of the Ghetto also found success in the US as the first work of fiction published by the Jewish Publication Society of America. This volume brings back to print the 1895 edition of Children of the Ghetto , the latest American version kwn to have been corrected by the author. Meri-Jane Rochelson places the vel in proper context by providing a biographical, historical and critical introduction; a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and tes on the text, making this accessible to both Jewish and n-Jewish readers.
Israel Zangwill, born in London's East End, ranked among the important writers of his time. A widely read and successful novelist, playwright, critic, and journalist, he was known internationally for his activism on behalf of Jewish nationalism and pacifism.Meri-Jane Rochelson is an associate professor of English at Florida International University. She coedited Transforming Genres: New Approaches to British Fiction of the 1890s (St. Martin's Press, 1994).