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Philosemitism On The London Stage: Sydney Grundy'S An Old Jew

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Chapter Summary

An Old Jew, a comedy in five acts by Sydney Grundy, opened in London in 1894, and was the last new English play with a Jewish protagonist to be produced prior to Children of the Ghetto. Though it is a work of minor literary value, it is the focus of this chapter for two reasons. First, because it represents the "before Zangwill" period, offering a better understanding of his and his followers' project to present Jews "as they are" on the mainstream stage; second, because An Old Jew is a so-called philosemitic play that supposedly presents the Jew in a favorable light. And yet, when compared with plays created a few years later by dramatists with intimate personal knowledge of Jewish life, Grundy's text reveals the enormous chasm between the work composed by a sympathetic outsider and one written from within an ethnic group.

Keywords: An Old Jew; Children of the Ghetto; Jewish life; London; philosemitism; Sydney Grundy



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