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The Old Religion: A Novel

David Mamet

137 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0684841193 / ISBN 13: 9780684841199
Published by Free Pr, New York, 1997
Condition: Fine Soft cover
From Clayton Fine Books (Shepherdstown, WV, U.S.A.)

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Uncorrected proof. Fine in wrappers. Bookseller Inventory # b17106

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Old Religion: A Novel

Publisher: Free Pr, New York

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Soft Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


A historical narrative tells the story of Jewish factory owner Leo Frank, who in 1914 was wrongfully accused and convicted of raping a white Southern girl and eventually lynched by an angry mob


For his second novel, playwright David Mamet chose as a subject the 1914 trial of Leo Frank, a Jew living in Georgia who was falsely accused of the rape and murder of a young girl at the factory he managed. Convicted on the perjurious testimony of the actual killer and several of his coworkers, Frank was later abducted from prison by a mob and lynched. "They covered his head, and they ripped his pants off and castrated him and hung him from the tree. A photographer took a picture showing the mob, one boy grinning at the camera, the body hanging, the legs covered by a blanket tied around the waist. The photo, reproduced as a postcard, was sold for many years in stores throughout the South."

The events are straightforward, and Mamet leaves no doubt over the course of the story as to the final outcome. But he does not portray the events so much as he probes the state of mind of Leo Frank, never relenting from the terse, stylized language familiar to fans of his plays. At the beginning of The Old Religion, despite his awareness of the growing anti-Semitism in the South (or perhaps because of it), Frank suppresses his heritage as much as possible. Even at a seder, "he pronounced the word kosher gingerly, as if to say, I don't disclaim that I have heard it, but I do not wish to say it freely, as to arrogate it to myself on the mere precedent of blood." But as the trial goes on, we are shown Frank's growing realization that, although he has embraced the American way of life, it will not embrace him in return.

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