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Novelist and Flimflam Man: Henry Harland, the First Popular 'Jewish' Writer in America
Michael Tritt

EVENT DESCRIPTION: Henry Harland (1861-1905), one of the most fascinating figures in American literature, was the first novelist in America to become popular writing about Jews, although he was not Jewish. By adopting what he thought was a Jewish-sounding pen name, "Sidney Luska," Harland tried to perpetrate a humbug and boost the sales of his books by creating the impression that he wrote about Jews from the "inside." His ruse worked: his first novel, published in 1885, sold 50,000 copies and he was much lauded for his realistic portrayal of Jews. Yet, in truth, he drew (like so many writers before--and after--him), upon the myth of the Jew rather than upon actual persons in his characterizations. Thus, his popularity (at least among Jews) was short-lived. Harland's self-conscious deployment of variations and permutations of Jewish stereotypes, along with the public reaction to these, offers a fascinating prism through which to reflect upon specific characteristics of the Jewish myth in literature and more generally, upon the complexity and insidiousness of such myth-making. Lecture attendees will be introduced to the captivating life and work of Harland/Luska, to specific types and stereotypes in his work, commonplace in the representation of the Jew, and to a fascinating example of the confusion (on the part of the writer and his readers) of myth and reality. A brief Power Point, highlighting various textual dimensions of Harland/Luska’s work and responses to it, will accompany the lecture.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Michael Tritt is Emeritus Professor of English at Marianopolis College, Montreal, Canada. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University, with a specialization in 19th century American Literature. He has written in scholarly journals about the work of many 19th and early 20th century American writers.  Dr. Tritt has a strong interest in Jewish-American Literature as well, and has written about the work of various modern Jewish writers, including, for example, Bernard Malamud and various writers of  the Holocaust. Dr. Tritt also reviews contemporary novels at public and private venues in and around Montreal.

Time: 3:45 pm - 5:30 pm
Date: Friday, March 6, 2015
Location: Barry and Florence Friedberg Auditorium, Boca Raton Campus
Fees: Member advance registration - $20 per event
$50 for any combination of three events
$100 for any combination of eight events
Door price member/non-member - $25

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