Commentary Magazine


Analyzing Fagin

To the Editor:

The introduction of the psychoanalytic approach into literary discussion is generally pettifogging and corrosive. Steven Marcus’s article [“Who Is Fagin?” July ’62] is a happy, brilliant exception.

I should, however, like to offer one minor criticism—which, I believe, strengthens Mr. Marcus’s thesis: In his closing paragraph he writes: “. . . the part of Fagin which is Jewish turns out to be not merely minor but almost fortuitous, or . . . curiously unpremeditated. . . .” In the light of Mr. Marcus’s own sensitive perceptions, I think that Fagin’s Jewishness is not minor—and, though certainly unpremeditated, is not curious. As any psychoanalyst can testify, the Jew is a symbol of sexual freedom (“evil”) for the Gentile (just as the Gentile is a symbol of sex-and-evil for the Jew).

It is quite of a piece therefore that Fagin should have in his character Oliver’s (Dickens’s) sexuality as well as his other lusty but socially reprehensible qualities. Especially since, as Mr. Marcus shows so clearly, Fagin is not only the suppressed Dickens but Dickens’s Oedipean father.

Arthur Steig
Lakewood, New Jersey

_____________

 

About the Author




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.