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Samuel Roth, Infamous Modernist$
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Jay A. Gertzman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813044170

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813044170.001.0001

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Prelude to an International Protest: A Rising, Pugnacious Man of Letters

(p.35) Chapter 2 1917–1925
Samuel Roth, Infamous Modernist

Jay A. Gertzman

University Press of Florida

Roth’s first two decades in America were full of spiritual trials. He got married in 1918 but questioned his ability to love. He wrote acclaimed poetry, but most of it expressed a yearning for God based on guilty awareness of self-interest. He revived a Little Magazine he had previously edited while at Columbia University, but it failed because he did not have sufficient funds. His own Jewish American poetry benefited from the criticism of Marie Syrkin and Maurice Samuel and his understanding of Edgar Arlington Robinson’s dramatic monologues. He opened his Poetry Book Shop, but when it failed, he went to London, where he met and impressed many literary figures. After failing to attain a London publisher for a novel and a proposed anthology of American poetry, he returned to New York. He published two prophetic poems about the future of Zionism and of the moribund condition of European culture after World War I.

Keywords:   Zionism, dramatic monologue, American Jewish Literature, Marie Syrkin, prophetic literature

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