Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Saul Bellow on Jewishness

...a Jewish writer could not afford to be unaware of his detractors. He had to thicken his skin without coarsening himself when he heard from a poet he much admired that America had become the land of the wop and the kike; or from an even more famous literary figure that his fellow Jews were the master criminals who had imposed their usura on long-suffering gentiles, that they had plunged the world into war, and that the goyim were cattle driven to the slaughterhouse by Yids. It was the opinion of the leading poet of my own generation that in a Christian society the number of unbelieving Jews must be restricted.

For a Jew, the proper attitude to adopt was the Nietzschean spernere se sperni, to despise being despised.

However disagreeable the phenomenon may seem at moments of sensitivity it is seldom more than trivial. The dislike of Jews was a ready way for WASP literati to identify themselves with the great tradition. Besides, it is something like a hereditary option for non-Jews to exercise at a certain moment when they discover that they have a born right to decide whether they are for the Jews or against them. (Jews have no such right.)


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