publication . Article . 2009

Imaginary Jews and True Confessions: Ethnicity, Lyricism, and John Berryman's <em>Dream Songs</em>

Andrew S. Gross;
Open Access English
  • Published: 01 Feb 2009 Journal: Journal of Transnational American Studies (issn: 1940-0764, Copyright policy)
  • Publisher: eScholarship Publishing, University of California
Abstract
&lt;p&gt;Berryman was fascinated with the figure of "the imaginary Jew." The phrase is the title of his first short story, it recurs in &lt;em&gt;The Dream Songs&lt;/em&gt;, and it was to have been the topic of the final chapter of his autobiographical novel &lt;em&gt;Recovery&lt;/em&gt;. Critics have not treated Berryman's "imaginary Jew" kindly. Early critics saw prosopopoeia as uncongenial to the confessional project. More recent critics see the figure as a misappropriation of Jewish identity. Berryman, however, did not want to pass himself off as Jewish; he invented the figure to expose the anti-Semitism of Eliot and Pound. His strategy of impersonating the ...
Subjects
free text keywords: John Berryman (1914-1972), The Dream Songs (1969), "The Imaginary Jew", poetry, ethnicity, Vietnam War, Social Sciences, H, Social sciences (General), H1-99
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