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Reuben Sachs by Amy Levy
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Reuben Sachs

by Amy Levy

Reuben Sachs is a London lawyer whose political aspirations do not include marriage to Judith Quixano, the daughter of a respectable but unexceptional family. But without Reuben, a woman like Judith might have a bleak future in mid-19th century England: a loveless marriage or lifelong dependency are apparently her only options…A feminist, a Jew, and a lesbian, Amy Levy wrote about Anglo-Jewish cultural mores and the lives of would-be independent women in Victorian society. Levy was as repelled by contemporary literature’s occasional paragon (e.g., Daniel Deronda) as by its more frequent anti-Semitic stereotypes. REUBEN SACHS was her attempt at an honest, warts-and-all account of middle class Jewish life in late-19th century London. While many of Levy’s contemporaries condemned the book as a shanda fur die goyim (an embarrassment), Oscar Wilde wrote: “Its directness, its uncompromising truths, its depth of feeling, and above all, its absence of any single superfluous word, make REUBEN SACHS, in some sort, a classic.” Amy Levy (1861-1889) was born in London and educated in Brighton and at Newnham College, Cambridge. Her social set included Beatrix Potter and Eleanor Marx, with whom she studied in the British Museum Reading Room, and lover Vernon Lee (Violet Padget).

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