Monday evening, Nov.4, the Montreal Dickens Fellowship hosted Dr. Goldie Morgentaler, professor of English and of Jewish studies at Lethbridge University and current President of the Dickens Society. She gave an excellent hour long talk on the History of the Jew in British society and the portrayal of the Jew in English Literature. Her lecture gave a wonderful historical perspective, touching on Judas, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Thackeray and George Elliot. She then zeroed in on Fagin and Oliver Twist, making a strong case that Dickens was indeed an Anti-Semite in his own right notwithstanding the prevalent racial prejudice of his time. Even his attempts at reparation, when criticized for denigrating Jews in the character of Fagin, i.e. the creation of the ultra good Riah in Our Mutual Friend, reflected his ignorance and lack of sensitivity and insight when faced with this issue. We all received a handout with relevant quotes from Oliver Twist and the Merchant of Venice and numerous illustrations of Jews in literature.
A lively discussion followed, highlighting Dr. Morgentaler’s appreciation of Dickens’s genius as a writer despite his prejudice and personal failings.There was a very good attendance ( upwards of 45 people). Dr. Morgentaler was very well received.
Dr. Ellie Clavier-Rothstein, President of the Montreal Dickens Fellowship, reviewed the Fellowship history, current schedule and upcoming events. As usual, a large display of books about Dickens was on display. Notices of our upcoming John Huston Christmas show were given to all attendees.
Many thanks to Sylvia Rabinovitch and Louise G. de Tonnancour for their efforts in distributing notices and their delicious goodies! Thanks to Flavious, of the Westmount Library for helping set up the chairs, refreshments, microphone, etc. and of course many, many thanks to Goldie for sharing her extensive knowledge with us!
Follow link to view additional photos: Dr. Morgentaler
follow link to view some of Dr. Morgentaler’s handouts