Philip Roth, “Defender of the Faith”

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Upon its publication in

The New Yorker

of March 14, 1959, “Defender of the Faith” provoked strong criticism from some Jewish organizations and rabbis, who denounced its relatively unknown, twenty-six-year-old author as an anti-Semitic, self-hating Jew. Since then this controversial narrative—collected in Roth’s

Goodbye, Columbus


Best American Short Stories 1960

—has become the most frequently reprinted Roth short story and a major work in the Jewish-American literary canon.

“Defender of the Faith” is set on a military base in Missouri during the early summer of 1945, a period when the European war had just ended but the war in the Pacific was still producing appalling American casualties. Sergeant Nathan Marx, the story’s narrator, has recently returned to stateside duty

1827 words

Citation: Chura, Patrick. "“Defender of the Faith”". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 June 2010 [, accessed 26 May 2024.]

30478 “Defender of the Faith” 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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