Imaginary & Other Jews
To the Editor:
Although I have not read the story by Paul Goodman described in Herb Greer’s fine and thoughtful article, “An Amateur Jew” [March], its theme is strikingly similar to that of John Berryman’s “The Imaginary Jew,” a story based on an unpleasant experience Berryman once had in Union Square, in which he was mistaken for and persecuted as a Jew by a right-wing lout.
One difference between the story Mr. Greer describes and Berryman’s is that Berryman (or his protagonist-narrator, who is largely a stand-in for himself) is trying not to defend a particular Jew but to defend his own political principles and to establish a measure of historical truth. Another difference is that Berryman does not give ground to his persecutor, an Irishman, but only accepts his Jewishness, metaphorically speaking, a few days after the incident. . . .
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