Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual (Paperback)
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Stanley Kubrick is generally acknowledged as one of the world’s great directors. Yet few critics or scholars have considered how he emerged from a unique and vibrant cultural milieu: the New York Jewish intelligentsia.
Stanley Kubrick reexamines the director’s work in context of his ethnic and cultural origins. Focusing on several of Kubrick’s key themes—including masculinity, ethical responsibility, and the nature of evil—it demonstrates how his films were in conversation with contemporary New York Jewish intellectuals who grappled with the same concerns. At the same time, it explores Kubrick’s fraught relationship with his Jewish identity and his reluctance to be pegged as an ethnic director, manifest in his removal of Jewish references and characters from stories he adapted.
As he digs deep into rare Kubrick archives to reveal insights about the director’s life and times, film scholar Nathan Abrams also provides a nuanced account of Kubrick’s cinematic artistry. Each chapter offers a detailed analysis of one of Kubrick’s major films, including Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut. Stanley Kubrick thus presents an illuminating look at one of the twentieth century’s most renowned and yet misunderstood directors.
About the Author
NATHAN ABRAMS is a professor of film studies at Bangor University in Wales. He is the founding coeditor of Jewish Film and New Media: An International Journal, and he is also the author of several books including The New Jew in Film: Exploring Jewishness and Judaism in Contemporary Cinema (Rutgers University Press).
"Stanley Kubrick is outstanding in its approach and the material it covers. As a pioneer work, anyone investigating Kubrick in the future would not be able to overlook Abrams' findings and arguments."
— Marat Grinberg
"With imagination and intellectual rigor, using archival research and close readings of the films, Nathan Abrams explores Stanley Kubrick’s relationship with his Jewishness in this exceptionally readable and convincing book."
— Robert P. Kolker
"Brilliantly documents and analyzes Kubrick's Jewish sensibility by locating him in the lifelong context of his Jewish cultural and intellectual milieu. Abrams breaks acres of new ground. Essential reading."
— Geoffrey Cocks
“A must-read for anyone interested in Kubrick, this original and provocative study combines wonderfully perceptive film analyses with extensive archival research and a dazzling display of cultural-historical and biographical knowledge.”
— Peter Krämer
"Written by Nathan Abrams, a superstar of contemporary Kubrick studies, this wonderfully knowledgeable and scholarly account of the great director’s Jewishness is the most original film book I’ve read for many years."
— I.Q. Hunter
"Stanley Kubrick’s films all had one thing in common: Jewishness" by Nathan Abrams
— The Conversation
" [A] pathbreaking new book."
— Tablet Magazine
"The Secret Jewish History Of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’" by Nathan Abrams
"In Nathan Abrams’s Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual, [an] exploration of the contradictions of Kubrick’s relation to Jewish identity, the film is seen through the lens of Biblical allusion and Kabbalistic interpretation."
— Wall Street Journal
"Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece, by Michael Benson" by Nathan Abrams
— Times Higher Education
Jewish Views podcast interview with Nathan Abrams
— Jewish Views Podcast
"An impressive work of original scholarship, Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual presents an exceptionally informative study of one of the twentieth century's most renowned and yet misunderstood film directors."
— Midwest Book Review
"No film or Jewish history holding should be without this different approach to Kubrick's film magic."
— Donovan's Literary Services
"Weekly Book List, May 25, 2018" by Nina Ayoub mention of Stanley Kubrick
— Chronicle of Higher Education
"Kubrick's Universe," the Stanley Kubrick podcast - 9 Stanley Kubrick New York Jewish Intellectual with Nathan Abrams
— Kubrick's Universe podcast
"[An] extraordinarily entertaining new book."
— Village Voice
"Abrams combines close readings of the films with intensive, archival research into the source material— scripts, production documents, and Kubrick’s personal papers and artifacts—which collectively tell a Jewish story."
— Jewish Review of Books
"Kubrick, the enigmatic Jew," by Nathan Abrams
— Jewish Chronicle
"?Lost Stanley Kubrick screenplay, Burning Secret, is found 60 years on" by Dan Alberge
— The Guardian/Observer
"?Scholar reveals morbid roots of lost Stanley Kubrick script," by JP O'Malley
— The Times of Israel
"Abrams...[identifies] each and every Jewish allusion in Kubrick’s oeuvre that he can find."
— Times Literary Supplement
"The power of the book as a whole...will be riveting reading for anyone who loves Kubrick's film."
— Jerusalem Post Magazine
"Abrams asserts that if you look closely enough, the tension between being a cultural and religious Jew turns up frequently in Kubrick’s work."
— Jewish Journal
"Abrams...makes a very convincing case that while Kubrick posed as an atheist technocrat filmmaker who wanted his films to appeal to worldwide audiences, among the many things he was burying in their subtexts were 'the concerns of Jewish intellectuals in the post-Holocaust world'....Ultimately though, are Abrams’ assumptions correct? Many of them ring true and likely are."
— PJ Media
"How Jewish Was Stanley Kubrick?" by Nathan Abrams
— Zocalo Public Square
"Every scholar and devotee of Kubrick will want to read Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual."
— Film Quarterly
"Nathan Abrams’ recent and remarkably insightful book published by Rutgers University Press in 2018."
— Senses of Cinema
"No stone is unturned, no link untraced. Fans will revisit Kubrick’s movies with increased appreciation of the depth and complexity that make them compelling, and new ideas to fuel speculations. Academics will find plenty to rekindle debates about matters such as authorship, genre, adaptation, context and audience address, making this a significant intervention beyond the sub-field of Kubrick studies."
"No stone is unturned, no link untraced. Fans will revisit Kubrick’s movies with increased appreciation of the depth and complexity that make them compelling, and new ideas to fuel speculations. Academics will find plenty to rekindle debates about matters such as authorship, genre, adaptation, context, and audience address, making this a significant intervention beyond the subfield of Kubrick studies."
"Abrams’s study—this is not the least of its virtues—encourages us to revisit the films with a refreshed, enlightened eye. This is what any serious and good work of film criticism should do."
— Senses of Cinema
"We’re still finding Jewish clues in Kubrick’s work 20 years after his last film," by Nathan Abrams
— Times of Israel
"Readers interested in a systematic dissection of how Jewish themes are coded in Kubrick's work are directed to Nathan Abrams' Stanley Kubrick: New York Jewish Intellectual."
— Pop Matters
"As he digs deep into rare Kubrick archives to reveal insights about the director’s life and times, film scholar Nathan Abrams also provides a nuanced account of Kubrick’s cinematic artistry. Each chapter offers a detailed analysis of one of Kubrick’s major films, including Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut. Stanley Kubrick thus presents an illuminating look at one of the twentieth century’s most renowned and yet misunderstood directors."
— Jewish Book World
"Stanley Kubrick as American film master," by Aaron Howard
— Jewish Herald-Voice
"Abrams’s book is a towering achievement in the ever-burgeoning literature on Kubrick. It genuinely reveals new perspectives on Kubrick through its ability to read the autobiographical allusions present in all of his films, and it provides a vital argument as to the importance of the director’s Jewish ancestry on his art."
— Modern Jewish Studies
"Abrams offers fine-grained readings and interpretations of Kubrick’s career as a photographer and director, including insights into Kubrick’s process of development and production. Abrams is particularly attuned to the paradoxical pattern of Kubrick’s erasure of overt Jewish representation from source material while simultaneously interweaving Jewish themes, symbols, and cultural textures into his art."
— Journal of Religion and Film
"Abrams dug through the archives to provide a detailed re-examination of Kubrick’s films through the context of his Jewish background. The book details themes and concepts such as masculinity and ethical responsibility. Abrams also explores Kubrick’s fraught relationship with his Jewish identity, and how his reluctance to be pegged as an 'ethnic' director manifested in the removal of Jewish references and characters from stories he adapted."