Abraham Cahan's The Rise of David Levinsky in McClure's Magazine: Race, Capitalism, and Jewish American Identity
By situating The Rise of David Levinsky in its original 1913 magazine context, I recognize the ways in which Abraham Cahan set out to undermine the theories of race—and attendant ideas about Jewish identity—with which McClure’s and other American periodicals were obsessed. I argue that the novel appears to accept the premise that races exist while it also undermines a belief in racial inequality. In short, I argue that Cahan likely used race, and McClure’s propensity for “exotic” characters as a kind of Trojan horse in order to deny the prevailing view that, in the United States, only one race, the Anglo-Saxon, can lay claim to the achievements of civilization. Cahan’s Yiddish-speaking world of Russian Jewish characters became a convenient and critical foil for capitalism itself.
Studies In American Jewish Literature
Barron, J. N.
(2021). Abraham Cahan's The Rise of David Levinsky in McClure's Magazine: Race, Capitalism, and Jewish American Identity. Studies In American Jewish Literature, 40(2), 140-171.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/19462