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Fagin the Jew

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  554 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
From his early newspaper comics to the sophisticated graphic novels he produces today, Will Eisner has been a pioneering force in comics for more than sixty years. Ron Goulart, writing in Book World, declared, “A shrewd, thoughtful man, Eisner has always had a knack for deftly combining dialogue and images to tell his story,” and fellow graphic novelist Alan Moore simply s ...more
Paperback, First edition, 127 pages
Published September 16th 2003 by Doubleday Books (first published 2003)
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Sam Quixote
Will Eisner created a superhero comic called The Spirit in the 1940s which had a supporting character called Ebony, drawn as a racist stereotype. It wasn’t just Eisner doing this though, Ebony was indicative of how blacks were depicted in comics in this era - pick up a copy of Herge’s Tintin in the Congo and prepare to be shocked!

Unfair (not to mention offensive) stereotypes bothered Eisner in his later years and he sought to redress the balance of how Jews were traditionally depicted. His focu
May 20, 2014 Teresa rated it liked it
Eisner's stated purpose with this graphic novel is to create a "more truthful stereotype" in his rendering of Fagin than Dickens and the illustrator Cruikshank did in Oliver Twist.

He gives Fagin a backstory and posits him as one of the Ashkenazim (Jews of Middle Europe) that came to London after the more educated Sephardim (those from Portugal and Spain) had arrived. I appreciated the history; it's just a shame Eisner's story isn't more interesting, and the middle is simply a rehash of the plot
Javier Muñoz
En esta novela gráfica Eisner cuenta la historia de Fagin, el judío de Oliver Twist, en el libro original este personaje es tratado como el villano judío arquetípico de acuerdo con el estereotipo de la época, en la que los inmigrantes judíos eran asociados con la delincuencia y la marginalidad en Inglaterra. Eisner retrata a este personaje de forma más amable, justificando su modo de vida por ser la forma que había tenido de sobrevivir en una inglaterra llena de prejuicios hacia su raza y suaviz ...more
Joseph R.
Nov 26, 2016 Joseph R. rated it really liked it
Bothered by the stereotypical depiction of Jews in classic literature, Will Eisner wrote this story of Fagin, the leader of the youthful gang of pick-pockets in Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist. Fagin is frequently referred to as "the Jew" and is depicted as a money-grubbing low-life. Decades after it was published, Dickens removed most of the references to Fagin as a Jew in the 1867 edition. By then, the book was already widely read. In response, Eisner wrote and illustrated a life story for ...more
Pearse Anderson
Dec 18, 2016 Pearse Anderson rated it it was ok
The beginning was uncompelling, the middle was summary, and the end was preachy. Amazing art, but if it was any shorter I wouldn't stopped reading. 5/10.
Nov 03, 2009 Kayenne rated it it was amazing
This is a really well done re-telling of the "Oliver Twist" character Fagin... but stripped of derogatory English stereotypes about jews. Eisner practically invokes Dickens and makes him have a sit down with Fagin so that Fagin can explain to him the life a Jewish person living on the streets in that time period in London.
The first thing he does is to visually re-construct Fagin from Sephardi to Ashkenazi, as was more likely for a street or peasant Jew in London at that time.

The rest you can re
May 26, 2015 Rishonda rated it liked it
I'll start off by saying that no matter what I thought about this particular work, there need to be more books like this. Many of the works we consider to be "classics" are full of stereotypes and hurtful caricatures of non-majority races and religions. The idea of rewriting these works to give certain characters a backstory or to make them appear less hurtful is a good one, and I'd be happy to see it employed on other works.

I did find it interesting that Eisner, who admits to creating an polit
Nov 17, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
A really interesting retelling of Oliver Twist with an aim to retell the character of Fagin. Due to the power of Dickens, the stereotype of Fagin in Oliver Twist furthered a particularly negative stereotype of Jewishness in popular culture. Dickens himself attempted a rewrite years later to reduce this negativity and tried in later years to support the acceptance and assimilation of Jews in society, but Fagin still existed as a powerful, devilish character. Eisner gives Fagin a sympathetic back ...more
Mar 15, 2014 Kenneth rated it really liked it
Much as I've always loved Eisner, I wasn't pre-sold on this graphic novel. The idea of an elderly cartoonist grappling with antisemitism via literary revisionism in the context of his own longstanding liberal guilt suggested the possibility that the story might get bogged down in good but fraught intentions.

Well, I needn't have worried. With his usual effortless storytelling, Eisner had created yet another compulsive page-turner, a fascinating reimagining of Dickens's classic OLIVER TWIST focuss
May 22, 2015 Bethany rated it really liked it
My first graphic novel. It was essentially a rebelling of Oliver Twist, but graphically and through the lens of a different character and with an agenda-albeit a good one-demolish are stereotype of Jew=thief.
Nothing too deep here, and it was a quick read. It opened my eyes that graphic novels can be so much more than smut and superheroes.
Russell Olson
Dec 09, 2013 Russell Olson rated it it was amazing
Easily the best thing I've read from the genius, Eisner. So deftly and expertly done. His most beautiful artwork and most sensitive writing. Excellent.
Café de Tinta
Oct 10, 2016 Café de Tinta rated it really liked it
Revisión del clásico Oliver Twist contada desde el punto de vista de Fagin. Si te gusta Will Eisner, merece la pena.
Jan 22, 2017 Kyle rated it liked it
Not as good the Contract with God trilogy but still good. Eisner's bread and butter is early 20th Century New York where the melting pot atmosphere is enhanced by his cartoonish characters. His broad, heavy story beats work within the frames of his own narratives but wiggling his way into the world of Charles Dickens (including a character who is actually the author Charles Dickens) serves to highlight some of his shortcomings. Also, why does he have to give all the British women messed up teeth ...more
Bob Anderson
Jan 11, 2017 Bob Anderson rated it it was amazing
This is a very late in life graphic novel from Eisner. Framed as a direct rebuttal from Fagin to Dickens about his portrayal in Oliver Twist, this novel explores Eisner’s thoughts on stereotypes and archetypes, on empathy for the villainous (in both the modern and archaic senses). Eisner uses Dickensian tropes of adoption and unknown heritage to build a sympathetic backstory for Fagin, from whom he sands off some rough edges. Eisner’s Fagin is still a brute and a criminal, though some of the exp ...more
Mar 16, 2015 D.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I probably shouldn't go into libraries any more, as I'm trying to dedicate myself to reading all the books I've collected (but not read) over the years. Having a book-loving kid makes that nearly impossible, though. So, in the interest of not picking up any 'heavy reading,' I try to restrict any borrowing to the Graphic Novels section; our library system is surprisingly well-stocked for comics, and I read them MUCH faster than prose work. So, on a recent trip to the main branch with the kid, I e ...more
May 17, 2010 Bruce rated it it was ok
This is Will Eisner’s graphic retelling of Oliver Twist from Fagin’s point of view… literally: Eisner’s structure is to frame the story around an imagined cellblock visit of Charles Dickens on Moses Fagin, with Fagin calling the author to account for a portrayal that has more to do with prevailing, class-based British antisemitism than unique character-based history (as is noted here and has been elsewhere addressed, Dickens uses the word “Jew” as Fagin’s descriptor 257 times in the first 38 cha ...more
Dec 31, 2016 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
This was fascinating! Amazing how accepted such stereotyping of ethnicity has been so widely accepted. A sad story...
Ian Wood
Oct 19, 2014 Ian Wood rated it it was amazing
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
Mimi Wolske
Jun 29, 2013 Mimi Wolske rated it liked it
Dickens himself was quoted on how he came up with the depiction of Fagin: "It unfortunately was true, of the time to which the story refers, that the class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew.

I'm about 10+ years late in reading "Fagin the Jew", but I'm glad I finally did.

Let me begin where many books begin... Eisner's novel includes a foreword that explains probable historical antecedents of the tale and dares to explain how they related to Dickens' portray of Jews.

"Fagin the Jew" finds the
Mar 28, 2016 Thomas rated it really liked it
This might be one of Eisner's most satisfying and ambitious works, in the great tradition of subversive rewrites like Wide Sargasso Sea. Eisner takes the well-known character of Fagin and tells the story of his life before and through the tale of Oliver Twist. It is enjoyable on many fronts - it is a great revisiting of a grand old tale, a version in another format by a master of the art of the graphic novel, and it is a revealing historical portrait of Dickensian London and parts of the social ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Angela rated it really liked it
Essentially fanfic that tries to correct some of the blatantly anti-Semitic stereotyping in Dickens.

This is my third Eisner (after this and this), and I think I like this one least so far. The writing risks teetering into heavy-handedness a few times, and I found the pacing a bit whirlwind. We follow Moses Fagin - who would become the infamous "Fagin the Jew" of Oliver Twist - from his birth, through various misfortunes, until he gets to his present position. It's incredibly interesting from th
Salvatore Pulvirenti
Oliver Twist visto da un altro punto di vista.
Stavolta Eisner non inventa, bens�� reinventa un classico della letteratura di Dickens. A spingerlo �� una distorsione storica dell'ebraismo che vuole in qualche modo sconfiggere.
E' chiaro che, date le sue origini, la spinta nasce da qualcosa che ha nel sangue. Ma in fondo chiunque di noi appartiene a quella che la Storia classifica come "minoranza" in qualcosa. E lo spunto di questo fumetto �� un punto a favore di qualsiasi "minoranza".

I personaggi
Artur Coelho
Aug 31, 2013 Artur Coelho rated it it was amazing
Desgostoso com a abundância de estereótipos raciais nos comics (aos quais a sua própria obra não é estranha) Will Eisner revisita a mais clássica das obras de Dickens sob o ponto de vista de um dos seus mais tenebrosos personagens. É um curioso virar do jogo. Eisner aplica a técnica usada por Dickens para sublinhas as extremas injustiças sociais da Inglaterra do século XIX com o propósito de demonstrar o o anti-semitismo como racismo absurdo. No caminho resume muito bem o clássico Oliver Twist, ...more
Nov 16, 2007 Maggie rated it liked it
In an attempt to understand his own use of racial stereotypes and the long standing stereotypes of Jewish people in graphic art, Will Eisner retells Oliver Twist from the perspective of Fagin - beginning with his family's emigration to England following the pogroms of the early 19th century and ending with his death at the gallows.

Eisner calls out Dickens, literally. The shadowy back of Dickens as listener appears throughout the work. Eisner does place blame on Dickens for creating an insidious
Julio Enrique
Algo que acabo de leer. Por alguna razón decidí introducirme en la obra de Eisner leyendo una de sus últimas piezas y quizá una de las menos conocidas. Siempre es interesante leer una reescritura de una obra canónica y más si es en forma de novela gráfica hecha por uno de los maestros de este formato. En este caso es todavía más interesante porque Eisner no se limitó a adaptar de manera fiel "Oliver Twister" de Charles Dickens, sino que decidió hacer una obra que es una refutación de la manera e ...more
Richard Barnes
May 02, 2015 Richard Barnes rated it it was amazing
A powerful and thought-provoking book. Eisner's rehabilitation of Dickens' Fagin, remains faithful to the story from Oliver Twist, yet adds a backstory to the character.

It is a bold exercise - making a book a direct address to a genuine literary powerhouse like Dickens. And it takes a literary powerhouse (in Eisner) to pull it off.

I suspect Dickens would have liked this book - clearly troubled in later life by how Fagin became representative of a vile portrayal of the Jewish people.

Dickens would
Nov 24, 2016 Devi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fagin ist eine Figur aus Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist". Fagin ist in Dickens' Werk als recht (negativ) klischeehafter Jude dargestellt und Eisner versucht mit dieser geschickten Graphic Novel dem gegenzusteuern. Er lässt der Figur Fagin Raum und Zeit seine Geschichte dem Autoren Dickens zu erzählen und rückt das Bild der Juden in der viktorianischen Zeit etwas gerader. Dank Dickens' Bestseller Oliver Twist haben sich auch typische Vorurteile festgesetzt, die keineswegs nötig waren und sind. Di ...more
Nov 15, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
FAGIN THE JEW. (2003). Will Eisner. ****.
Eisner said he re-read Dickens’ Oliver Twist and felt that Fagin was given a bad rap – full of the then common racial slurs of Jews at the time. Although Dickens softened his picture of Fagin in later editions of Twist, not many people noticed. The stereotype was already in place. Here is Dickens’ tale of Oliver re-told by Eisner in a format that was much more favorable to the true character of Fagin. Obviously, Eisner told his tale in a graphic novel for
Jul 01, 2014 Greg rated it liked it
I appreciated the forward and afterword written by the author more than the actual work though I'm not saying I disliked the work itself. I appreciate the point Eisner is making about the treatment of Jewish characters in the media and I really appreciate his own acknowledgment of stereotypes in his own early work that he attempted to correct when he became aware of them. This is the first thing I've read by Eisner and I do want to experience more of his work. Though I don't know much about his ...more
Paulo Tiago Muliterno
Not Eisner's most brilliant work, although it is, surely, beautifully drawn and its connection with Charles Dickens's "Oliver Twist" makes it at least remarkable.

However, its almost apologetic tone (Eisner's preface pretty much announces it) gets to be annoying at times, especially in the very ending, after Fagin's fate is shown. The epilogue feels misplaced, as if the reader needs some sort of comforting reassurance.

Yet, being an Eisner work, it surely has more brains and style than most books
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WILL EISNER was born on March 6, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. By the time of his death on January 3, 2005, Will Eisner was recognized internationally as one of the giants in the field of sequential art, a term he coined.

In a career that spanned nearly eight decades -- from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics - Will Eisner was truly the 'Father of the Graphic Novel' and the 'O
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