Reuben Sachs
A Sketch
  • Publication Date: March 28, 2006
  • ISBN: 9781551115658 / 1551115654
  • 250 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Reuben Sachs

A Sketch

  • Publication Date: March 28, 2006
  • ISBN: 9781551115658 / 1551115654
  • 250 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Oscar Wilde wrote of this novel, “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.” Reuben Sachs, the story of an extended Anglo-Jewish family in London, focuses on the relationship between two cousins, Reuben Sachs and Judith Quixano, and the tensions between their Jewish identities and English society. The novel’s complex and sometimes satirical portrait of Anglo-Jewish life, which was in part a reaction to George Eliot’s romanticized view of Victorian Jews in Daniel Deronda, caused controversy on its first publication.

This Broadview edition prints for the first time since its initial publication in The Jewish Chronicle Levy’s essay “The Jew in Fiction.” Other appendices include George Eliot’s essay on anti-Jewish sentiment in Victorian England and a chapter from Israel Zangwill’s novel The Children of the Ghetto. Also included is a map of Levy’s London with landmarks from her biography and from the “Jewish geography” of Reuben Sachs.


“Susan David Bernstein has done Victorian studies a great service with this edition of Amy Levy’s Reuben Sachs. Bernstein’s original research, insightful commentary, and wide ranging selection of appendices provide a detailed view of the many cultural discourses that surrounded Levy’s work. Thus, with this one volume, readers can discover this important Anglo-Jewish writer and also have enough source materials to contextualize Levy in the critical histories of Anglo-Jewish literature, women’s writing, and late Victorian England. I feel as if I have been waiting for this volume for ten years.” — Cynthia Scheinberg, Mills College

“This is an extremely welcome reissue of a complex and fascinating novel. Susan David Bernstein’s illuminating introduction persuasively demonstrates how to read Amy Levy’s fiction as an expression of the ‘double-consciousness’ of the semi-assimilated Victorian Jew. This edition provides superb sources that illustrate the extent and terms of contemporary controversy about the novel, and document the debates around racial science, ethnic politics, and the woman question that find expression in her writing. Bernstein also includes other examples of Levy’s fiction, poetry, and criticism that engage in troubled and unresolved ways with similar themes of Jewish identity and feminism.” — Nadia Valman, University of Southampton

Amy Levy: A Brief Chronology
Anglo-Jewish History: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

Reuben Sachs: A Sketch

Appendix A: Contemporary Reviews of Reuben Sachs

  1. “Critical Jews,” The Jewish Chronicle (25 January 1889)
  2. “Reuben Sachs,” The Spectator (16 February 1889)
  3. John Barrow Allen, “New Novels,” The Academy (16 February 1889)
  4. “The Deterioration of the Jewess,” Jewish World (22 February 1889)
  5. “Literary: Amy Levy’s Reuben Sachs,” The American Hebrew (5 April 1889)
  6. Oscar Wilde, “Amy Levy,” The Woman’s World (1890)

Appendix B: Other Writing by Levy

  1. “Jewish Women and ‘Women’s Rights,’” The Jewish Chronicle (7 February 1879,
    28 February 1879)
  2. “The Jew in Fiction,” The Jewish Chronicle (4 June 1886)
  3. “Middle-Class Jewish Women of To-Day,” The Jewish Chronicle (17 September 1886)
  4. “Cohen of Trinity,” The Gentleman’s Magazine (May 1889)
  5. Poetry

Appendix C: Literary Contexts

  1. From George Eliot, “The Modern Hep! Hep! Hep!,” The Impressions of Theophrastus Such (1878)
  2. From Mathilde Blind, “Daniel Deronda,” George Eliot (1883)
  3. From Israel Zangwill, Children of the Ghetto (1892)
  4. From Vernon Lee, “A Dialogue on Novels,” The Contemporary Review (September 1885)
  5. From Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying: A Dialogue,” The Nineteenth Century (January 1889)

Appendix D: The Jewish Question in Victorian Culture

  1. The Jewish Type: The New Race Sciences
    1. From Robert Knox, “Of the Coptic, Jewish, and Phoenician Races,” The Races of Men (1862)
    2. Joseph Jacobs, “The Jewish Type, and Galton’s Composite Photographs,” The Photographic
      (24 April 1885)
  2. Political and Social Contexts
    1. From Goldwin Smith, “Can Jews Be Patriots?” The Nineteenth Century (May 1878)
    2. From Hermann Adler, “Recent Phases of Judaeophobia,” The Nineteenth Century (December 1881)
    3. From Laurence Oliphant, “The Jew and the Eastern Question,” The Nineteenth Century (August

Appendix E: The New Woman Question

  1. From Clementina Black, “On Marriage: A Criticism,” Fortnightly Review (April 1890)
  2. From Grant Allen, “The Girl of the Future,” The Universal Review (1890)

Appendix F: Map of Levy’s London from Bacon’s New Map of London (1885)

Select Bibliography

Susan David Bernstein is a Professor of English, Jewish Studies, and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Confessional Subjects: Revelations of Gender and Power in Victorian Literature and Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 1997).