Myth and Subversion in the Contemporary Novel
The late twentieth and early twenty first centuries have seen a resurgence of the golem in several major American novels. What factors might lead to such a re-imagining of the golem in American fiction? Cynthia Ozick's The Puttermesser Papers (1997) and Thane Rosenbaum's The Golems of Gotham (2002) re-invent golems no longer anchored in vengeance but in healing, as vehicles for the kabbalistic notion of Tikkun Olam ("repairing the world"). Ozick creates the first female golem to help the lonely protagonist become a reformist mayor; in The Golems of Gotham, the golem is transformed into a team of literary golems who storm Manhattan not only to heal the grief-stricken protagonist but to cure a city from injustices. In these two novels, the golem is updated as a crusader who addresses both the ills of citizens and a collective fin de siècle melancholy.
Original Publication Citation
Schulman, P. (2012). The golems take New York: The resurgence of the golem in the work of Cynthia Ozick and Thane Rosenbaum. In J. M. Losada Goya & M. Guirao Ochoa (Eds.), Myth and Subversion in the Contemporary Novel (pp. 327-339). Cambridge Scholars.
Schulman, Peter, "The Golems Take New York: The Resurgence of the Golem in the Work of Cynthia Ozick and Thane Rosenbaum" (2012). World Languages and Cultures Faculty Publications. 39.