FIEDLER, LESLIE AARON (1917–2003), U.S. author and critic. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Fiedler taught at the University of Montana (1941–64) and, from 1965, was professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He wrote books of short stories, such as Pull Down Vanity (1962), and novels, including The Second Stone (1963), Back to China (1965), and The Last Jew in America (1966). He is however, best known for his literary studies and critical essays, which include a contribution to Leaves of Grass: 100 Years After (ed. by M. Hindus, 1955), in honor of Walt Whitman; an edition of Simone *Weil's Waiting for God (1959); The Art of the Essay (1969); Love and Death in the American Novel (1960); a contribution to The Continuing Debate (1964); and various articles in Encounter, Preuves, and Partisan Review. Fiedler tended to regard a literary work as the expression of an author's psychosexual desires, minimizing the importance of its structure and linguistic texture. Though not at first prominent in his works, Jewish themes played an increasing part in Fiedler's writing, notably in his Image of the Jew in American Fiction (1959) and The Jew in the American Novel (19662), where he saw the Jew as the eternal alien and dissenter. Fiedler on the Roof: Essays on Literature and Jewish Identity appeared in 1991. Nude Croquet (1969), a volume of collected stories, is a bleak, guilt-ridden anthology, including much of Jewish interest. Fiedler was active in American-Jewish life.
Bellman, in: Congress Bi-Weekly (Dec. 21, 1964), 10–12; Goodheart, in: Midstream, 7 no. 2 (1961), 94–100; Kostelanetz, ibid., 9 no. 3 (1963), 93–97; Chase, in: Chicago Review, 14 (Autumn–Winter 1960), 8–18; Whalen, in: Northwest Review, 9 (Spring 1968), 67–73. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Kellman and I. Malin (eds.) Leslie Fiedler and American Culture (1999).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.