Israel Zangwill The Melting-Pot

ISBN 13: 9781537753713

The Melting-Pot

 
9781537753713: The Melting-Pot
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Israel Zangwill (21 January 1864 – 1 August 1926) was a British author at the forefront of cultural Zionism during the 19th century, he was a close associate of Theodor Herzl. He later rejected the search for a Jewish homeland and became the prime thinker behind the territorial movement. He had already written a tale entitled The Premier and the Painter in collaboration with Louis Cowen, when he resigned his position as a teacher owing to differences with the school managers and ventured into journalism. He initiated and edited Ariel, The London Puck, and did miscellaneous work for the London press. Theatre Programme for the play The Melting Pot (1916). Zangwill's work earned him the nickname "the Dickens of the Ghetto. He wrote a very influential novel Children of the Ghetto: A Study of a Peculiar People (1892). The use of the metaphorical phrase "melting pot" to describe American absorption of immigrants was popularised by Zangwill's play The Melting Pot, a success in the United States in 1909–10. When The Melting Pot opened in Washington D.C. on 5 October 1909, former President Theodore Roosevelt leaned over the edge of his box and shouted, "That's a great play, Mr. Zangwill, that's a great play."

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From the Back Cover:

Israel Zangwill, an Anglo-Jewish author and son of immigrants, wrote The Melting-Pot to demonstrate how immigrants could become good American citizens, hoping to forestall the kinds of restrictions―particularly against Russian Jews―that had been enacted in his home country. In 1908, when the play first appeared on an American stage, rates of immigration were high and many Americans feared that these particular newcomers would unalterably change the nation’s character. Politicians and others called for restricted immigration and stringent tests for citizenship. The Melting-Pot did not prevent the US government from enacting stringent immigration restrictions in 1924. But it became Zangwill’s most popular and most continuously performed play, and it popularized a metaphor for America―the melting pot―that has been discussed and debated ever since.

This edition presents the play in its historical context, with readings from the time on immigration and intermarriage, as well as the settlement house movement and the Kishinev pogrom, which both figure prominently in the drama. Excerpts from the many and diverse reviews of the play highlight why it was so controversial. The Melting-Pot evokes questions about diversity and national identity that are still a contentious part of the national conversation.

About the Author:

Israel Zangwill (January 21, 1864 - August 1, 1926) was a British humorist and writer. Zangwill was born in London on January 21, 1864 in a family of Jewish immigrants from Czarist Russia, to Moses Zangwill from what is now Latvia and Ellen Hannah Marks Zangwill from what is now Poland. He dedicated his life to championing the cause of the oppressed. Jewish emancipation, women's suffrage, assimilationism, territorialism and Zionism were all fertile fields for his pen. His brother was also a writer, the novelist Louis Zangwill, and his son was the prominent British psychologist, Oliver Zangwill. Zangwill received his early schooling in Plymouth and Bristol. When he was nine years old Zangwill was enrolled in the Jews' Free School in Spitalfields in east London, a school for Jewish immigrant children. The school offered a strict course of both secular and religious studies while supplying clothing, food, and health care for the scholars; today one of its four houses is named Zangwill in his honour. At this school young Israel excelled and even taught part-time, moving up to become a full-fledged teacher. While teaching, he studied for his degree in 1884 from the University of London, earning a BA with triple honours. Zangwill married Edith Ayrton, a gentile feminist and author who was the daughter of cousins Matilda Chaplin and William Edward Ayrton. In later life, his friends included well known Victorian writers such as Jerome K. Jerome and H. G. Wells.

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