ARAN - Access to Research at NUI Galway

Clifford Odets: Writing Around Jewishness

ARAN - Access to Research at NUI Galway

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Frazier, Adrian
dc.contributor.author Phillips, Mary Elizabeth
dc.date.accessioned 2012-05-03T13:52:25Z
dc.date.issued 2011-09-30
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10379/2728
dc.description.abstract Playwright Clifford Odets was a second-generation Jewish American. He is commonly regarded as a sell-out to Hollywood who never fulfilled his artistic promise. This dissertation argues that societal pressure to assimilate was a major factor contributing to his problematic career. The context in which Odets developed as an artist was conflict-laden. He grew up in a mixed Bronx neighbourhood amidst an exchange of racial epithets. The Yiddishkeit homes of relatives and friends nourished him, and his father's interdict against Yiddish customs in the family home caused an inner rift within the boy. This binary affected Odets¿ personal relationships and, progressively, his work. He wrote his first full-length play, depicting the Depression struggles of a Bronx Jewish family, in a distinct Jewish idiom. Insecure about 'writing Jewish,' he then attempted to write his way toward centrality. Play- and screenwriting served as performative exercises in the creation of an assimilated persona. Odets spent the greater portion of his professional life in Hollywood, though he always considered himself primarily as a New York playwright. His Group Theatre training resulted in an unconventional working method that informed his plays as well as his finest screenwriting and directorial work in Hollywood. Odets' controversial testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952 reflected a characteristic lack of decisiveness. He felt he had defied the Committee despite naming former colleagues as Communist Party members. Others judged him more harshly. Odets sought resolution in once again writing in an ethnic mode. But his last finished play, The Flowering Peach, is overlaid with stock Yiddishisms. The process by which it came to fruition was fraught with discord. On his deathbed he expressed profound regret for not having been 'more of a Jew.' The American assimilation process had exacted the fee of authenticity. en_US
dc.subject Odets, anti-Semitism en_US
dc.title Clifford Odets: Writing Around Jewishness en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.contributor.funder Department of English en_US
dc.local.note Jewish-American playwright Clifford Odets catapulted American theatre into a new era with his singular, ethnically-tinged dialogue style and proletarian concerns. He influenced writers such as Arthur Miller and David Mamet. Yet his career did not fulfill expectations. Cultural and commercial pressures to erase ethnic reference impaired his creative facility. en_US
dc.description.embargo 2016-01-01
dc.local.final Yes en_US

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record