Wouk, Herman: Inside, Outside
(researched by Gabi Goodove)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Herman Wouk. Inside, Outside. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1985. Copyright: Herman Wouk. 

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?


First American edition published in trade cloth binding, with dust jacket.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

328 leaves, pp. [10] 4-15 [16] 17-20[ 21] 22-23 [24] 25-28 [29] 30-33 [34] 35-37 [38] 39-43 [44] 45-50 [51]52-54 [55] 56-61 [62] 63-67 [68] 69-77 [78] 79-82 [83] 84-87 [88] 89-93 [94] 95-98 [99] 100-107 [108] 109-115 [116] 117-123 [124] 125-136 [137] 138-145 [146] 147-157 [158] 159-162 [163] 164-167 [168] 169-177 [178] 179-184 [185] 186-189 [190] 191-194 [195] 196-202 [203,204] [205] 206-215 [216] 217-220 [221] 222-233 [234] 235-238 [239] 240-243 [244] 245-249 [250] 251-256 [257]  258-265 [266] 267-271 [2720 273-276 [277] 278-283 [284] 285-292 [293] 294-301 [302] 303-306 [307] 308-313 [314] 315-320 [321] 322-327 [328] 329-334 [335] 336-344 [345] 346-352 [353] 354-360 [361] 362-366 [367] 368-374 [375] 376-383 [384- 387] 388-397 [398] 399-407 [408] 409-413 [414] 415-422 [423] 424-431 [432] 433-442 [443] 444-449 [450] 451-459 [460] 461-464 [465] 466-470 [471] 472-480 [481] 482-487 [488] 489-493 [494] 495-499 [500] 501-505 [506] 507-511 [512] 513-517 [518] 519-524 [525] 526-534 [535] 536-542 [543] 544-547 [548] 549-554 [555] 556-560 [561] 562-567 [568] 569-576 [577] 578-585 [586] 587-593 [594] 595-605 [606] 607-609 [610] 611-615 [616] 617-622 [623] 624-632 [633] 634-637 [638] 639-644 [2].

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

Not edited or introduced but there is an author's note: "To my sister Irene with love". As well as a biblical reference: "Rejoice, young man in your youth, and let your heart pleasure you in the days of your young manhood; and walk in the ways of your heart, and the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgement. So remove trouble from your heart and put away wrongdoing from your flesh, for boyhood and youth are a breath. -Ecclesiastes 11:9-10".

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

There are no illustrations.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The presentation of the text is quite large (90R). This makes it very easy to read. Page size: 235 mm X 145mm. The size of the text is:180mm X 120mm. There are no smudges in the text. The cover is still in amazing condition. It does not look worn or used. 

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The paper is holding up very well, and is wove. It is smooth, with no tears at all.  The pages are also still very white and thick, with little to no yellowing present. 

11 Description of binding(s)

The front and back covers are bound with a light blue cloth. Front cover has faint stamp of Little, Brown and Company logo. The spine is bound with dark blue cloth. Dotted-line grain. Also on the spine: two interwoven rule lines at the top and bottom of the spine, gold stars, and the author and title reading vertically in the center of the spine. On the very bottom: the publishers name depicted horizontally . All text and designs on the spine are stamped in a shiny gold. Endpapers are rough with slight discoloration, but are still an off-white color. The dust jacket also appears to be in exceptional condition: the picture of a city which is very dark occupies the cover, with Herman Wouk detailed in white block lettering, reading horizontally. Beneath his name is the title: "INSIDE, OUTSIDE", depicted in a faint pink block lettering. and the back is a picture of Wouk. On the spine of the dust jacket is: "INSIDE, OUTSIDE" reading vertically in a faint pink, underneath which is horizontally written: "Herman Wouk" in white block lettering. Beneath the author's name is: "Little, Brown", also reading horizontally in white block lettering. On the back of the dust jacket is a black and white photograph of Herman Wouk.

12 Transcription of title page


Verso: COPYRIGHT @1981 BY HERMAN WOUK|ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE REPRODUCED IN|ANY FORM OR BY ANY ELECTRONIC OR MECHANICAL MEANS INCLUDING|INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS WITHOUT PERMISSIONS IN| WRITING FROM THE PUBLISHER, EXCEPT BY A REVIEWER WHO MAY QUOTE|BRIEF PASSAGES IN A REVIEW.|FIRST EDITION|”First Fig” From Collected Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay (Har-|per & Row Publisher’s Inc., copyright 1922 by Edna St. Vin-|cent Mllay), reprinted by permission.|LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA|Wouk, Herman,1915-|Inside,Outside|I.Title.|PS3545.09815[space]1985[space]813’.54[space]84-26087|BP|Published Simultaneously in Canada|by Little, Brown & Company (Canada) Limited|PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

Due to intensive research on Worldcat, ArchiveGrid and through Google Search, it was indicated that a holding of Wouk's manuscripts are located at Columbia Univeristy Library. The collection contains a bulk of Wouk's papers and drafts, but unfortunately there are no manuscripts for Inside, Outside.

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

Inscribed on front flyleaf in pencil: “CHB-$35.00”

All images of book are from: 
Special Collections: University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22904-4110

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

The original publisher also issued the book in 1995 in a special edition and the 1st Back Bay paperback edition, in 1996 (DI 1 ban), and in 2004 in a reissued paperback edition.

Source: "Worldcat.org” n.d. http://Worldcat.org

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

According to Abebooks.com, there were two printings of the first edition (One by Little, Brown, & Co., and the other by Avon Books, NY).

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

According to worldcat.org, there were several other editions from other publishers:  Ebook in 2014 by RosettaBooks, in 2013 by Hodder & Stoughton, in  a reissued paperback edition in 2004 by Brown Little, by Back Bay Brooks & Brown Little, in 1996 (Di 1 ban) by Little, Brown and Company, in 1995 (The 1st Bay Back paperback edition) by Little Brown, and Co.,), in 1986, by Avon Books, in 1986 by Collins, in 1986 by Fontana, in 1986 by William Collins Sons, in a new edition in 1986 by Fontana, in 1985 by Collins, and in a special edition in 1985 by Little, Brown, and Co.

6 Last date in print?

The book is still in print as of 2013, according to Abebooks and Amazon.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

After extensive research in sources: Hackett’s 60 Years of Bestsellers, Publisher’s Weekly, Golden Multitudes, and Tebbel’s History of American Publishing, no information was found regarding the total number of copies sold.

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

However, I was able to locate sales figures from the year 1985 in The Bowker Annual of Library and Book Trade Information: 252,614, placing it as #15 on their list of Bestsellers in 1985.

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

Advertisement from Publishers Weekly: January 8, 1985: The ad was five pages total. The first page was an identical cover to the first edition’s dust jacket: Transcribed: “The novel of a life time: Herman Wouk: Inside, Outside. The next two pages are a full spread of a city scape and the picture of the same novel cover in the right hand corner. The text at the top of the page says:
“In his most personal and revenging novel, Herman Wouk tells the wonderfully romantic, sometimes wildly funny story of a young man torn between traditions of the past and a future of risk and dazzling allure” Below this transcription are a few bullet points in much smaller text saying: “A Book-of-the-Month Club Selection. Poster available now. Publication date: April 2, 1985 (Shipping in February). (19.45) $19.95” On the final page of the advertisement is the same photograph that is on the back of the dust jacket of the first edition. A sepia photo of Wouk. Underneath the photograph it says: “Herman Wouk’s first new novel in seven years moves on from the grand themes which have won him international acclaim- war, the fate of nations, and the indomitable spirit of a man- to a different theme and a profound one: the quest for identity in the clash between the INSIDE of family and faith, and the OUTSIDE of the glittering American dream. INSIDE, OUTSIDE sweeps through more than 60 years, from the pre-war, pre-atomic innocence of the ‘20s and ‘30s to the turbulent immediate past. Sudden tragedy, with the spectacle of a falling President, and with the secret wartime mission between Washington and Jerusalem, call forth the author’s renowned storytelling gifts. Essentially an intense, personal book of intimate things, INSIDE, OUTSIDE is a merry, poignant, sometimes ribald picture of the American Jewish experience, by a master at the peak of his powers”.  Below the text is the publishers name in bold: Little, Brown and Company: 34 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass. 02106. On the bottom right hand side is yet another depiction of the book with the same dust jacket cover.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

There is some insight present on the advertisement to purchase other novelties centered around the novel: such as a poster, and also promoting the Book of The Month Club.

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

N/A- Through IMBd / The Film Index 

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

According to www.worldcat.org, there are seven translations:

(Spanish) Wouk, Herman, and Antonio Samons. Entre Dos Mundos. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1986. Print.

 (Russian) Wouk, Herman. Vnutri, Vovne: Roman. Jerusalem: "Shamir", 1999. Print.

(Finnish) Wouk, Herman, Aarne Valpola, and Riitta Kanerva. Manhattan. Espoo: Johanna, 1986. Print.

(German) Wouk, Herman. Der Enkel Des Rabbi: Roman. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann-Club, 1988. Print.

(Hebrew) Wouk, Herman, and ʻAmaśai Leṿin. Penim Ṿa-Ḥuts. Tel Aviv?: Kineret, 1987. Print. 

(Hungarian) Wouk, Herman, and Eszter Bíró. Kívül-belül. Budapest: Új Esély Kiadó, 1994. Print. 

(Swedish) Wouk, Herman, and Bengt Byström. Innanför, Utanför: Berättelsen Om Ett Liv : Roman. Lund: Btj, 2008. Sound recording.






14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A

Searches in Publisher’s Weekly did not indicate the work was serialized.

15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A

There are no sequels or prequels to the novel as of right now: indicated through research in Publisher’s Weekly, The National Union Catalog, and Abebooks.

Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

**Please refer to the entries for The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War for a biographical overview.** Herman Wouk has used his Jewish identity and experience of war to filter insight into many novels in his career as an author. His well-reclaimed “ Marjorie Morningstar” focuses on American Jewish life and sparked dialogue about Jewish presence in America, allowing this ideals to filter into subsequent works. Along with his Jewish experience of assimilation into America, Wouk embeds the knowledge he had from being a naval officer in World War II to publish many titles (such as “The Caine Mutiny”, and “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance”). This knowledge of war is prevalent throughout “Inside, Outside” and is centered around the failing presidency and explosion of war in America. Combined with a Jewish perspective, the idea behind “Inside, Outside” emphasizes the conflict of the pessimistic state of American Judaism and the struggle of maintaining a distinct cultural identity during assimilation. Because Wouk was raised Jewish in the Bronx, NY, many of his personal experiences come into play in the larger social tie this novel has to American Judaism in the city. The New York area has always been home to the majority of Orthodox Jews in the U.S. Certain norms were expected of those rising in the class system, which conflicted with the ideals set out in traditional Judaism, but many who immigrated as adults still adopted the American norms. Many of Wouk’s life influences and experiences with culture are hinted at in the novel, such as the Russian Jewish family (like his own) and the navigation through city life, like his experience in the Bronx. He ties in his perspective of the Jewish family into a crafted tale of assimilation and politics through the point of view of protagonist Israel Goodkind. This novel is deemed as “close to being an outright biography as he is likely to write” (Eisenhower). The ideas of staying true to his Jewish identity (aka the Inside) and the struggle with exposure to the city and the new way of life (the outside) are fleshed out. The publisher of this novel: Little, Brown and Co. has been publishing with Wouk since 1959 with: “This is My God: The Jewish Way of Life” and continued with Wouk after this novel with titles: “The Hope” in 1993, and “The Glory” in 1994, and “A Hole in Texas” (2004). The publication of “Inside, Outside” was right in the middle of their experience together. Overall, the novel added to Wouk’s career as an American Jewish writer by widening the perspective he offers about Jewish assimilation, and shed light on his talent to incorporate light humor into political commentary. This widens readers’ exposure to Jewish assimilation and hardships building on previous insights in his other novels with the background of wartime and politics.


Useful Sources: 

*Campenni, Frank. "Herman Wouk: Overview." Contemporary Novelists, by Susan Windisch Brown, 6th ed., St. James Press, 1996. Literature Resource Center,  http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/H1420008808/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid= LitRC&xid=d8251430. Accessed 7 Mar. 2018

*Eisenhower, John “Wouk Hits Close To Home With His `War Of Generations`.” n.d. Tribunedigital-Chicagotribune. Accessed March 12, 2018.   http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-03-24/entertainment/8501160592_1_jewish-            orthodox-religion-minsk.

  *“Fiction Book Review: The Hope by Herman Wouk, Author Little, Brown and Company Inc $24.95 (693p) ISBN 978-0-316-95519-5.” n.d. PublishersWeekly.Com. Accessed March12, 2018. /978-0-316-95519-5.

*Herman Wouk - Inside, Outside. n.d. Accessed March 12, 2018. http://www.hodder.co.uk/HodderStoughton/books/detail.page?isbn=9781444776645.

*“Herman Wouk.” n.d. Biography. Accessed March 11, 2018.https://www.biography.com/people/herman-wouk-20631823.

  *“Herman Wouk.” 2016. Book Series in Order. October 4, 2016. https://www.bookseriesinorder.com/herman-wouk/.

*Lewis, Michael J. "How This Magazine Wronged Herman Wouk: A 65-year injustice, rectified." Commentary, Feb. 2013, p. 35+. Literature Resource Center,http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A317074065/LitRC?u=viva_uva&sid=   LitRC&xid=5a74d8b7. Accessed 7 Mar. 2018.

 *“Little, Brown and Company.” 2017. Hachette Book Group (blog). June 29, 2017. https://www.littlebrown.com/.

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Many people had high hopes for Wouk’s new novel after his enormously successful “Winds of War” and “The Caine Mutiny”. People believed that his subsequent novels would repeat the style and wide reception of its predecessors. There was high anticipation, and the reviews seem to vary. I found a few reviews that were very positive. It was written that “it has been considered by many critics to be the author’s best work since ‘The Caine Mutiny’” (Sanford).   However, most of the other reviews were not as forgiving.  Wouk was described as “an author who has never matched his masterful ‘The Caine Mutiny’” and “Wouk promises literature but gives his readers only thin entertainment” (Pintarich). Critics did not seem to like his attempts to capture his audience through humor. The switch up in lingo from his previous novels did not seem to agree with critics. Since the novel is also deemed a reflection of his life: “the combination of borrowed scenarios and almost continuous autobiography, mildly varnished, precludes Wouk’s achieving any aesthetic distance” (Cohen). Wouk’s widely admired humored is seen as annoying, and continues even “when there is a good reason for remaining silent” (Cohen). While there was some irritation about Wouk’s humorous tone, others believed he “he milks everything for as many laughs as he can get, then, like a good comedian, moves on to another episode before the laughter begins to fade” (Merritt). A lot of reviews honed in on his failed attempt at joking, and emphasized that this clashed with his older style that got much recognition. It just seemed cheesy and forced, and honestly unnecessary. In addition to his humoristic style, there is some acknowledgment of the Judaism themes present throughout the novel: “I can’t help speculating that he also wanted with this book to “do something” for Jewish people” (Mosher). The message he was pushing about Jewish life sparked interest and admiration from readers. Wouk’s words about religion and assimilation became widely accessible and relatable to “readers of all backgrounds” (Mosher). Whether it was his intention or not, readers speculated on his motive for writing a story so close to home. There was not much negativity surrounding the overall context of the book, readers just did not seem as thrilled compared to his more successful, less “forced” novels. The reception about his message and relation to Judaism did seem to receive positive feedback.



Helpful sources:

 Oregonian, SUNRISE ed., 5 May 1985, p. 189. Readex: Readex AllSearch, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/readex/doc?p=ARDX&docref=image/v2:11A73E5827618330@EANX-132733FFF21BF5C3@2446191-1326E3D3F9B3267F@188-1326E3D3F9B3267F@. Accessed 28 Mar. 2018.

Richmond Times Dispatch, 31 Mar. 1985, p. 171. Readex: Readex AllSearch, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/readex/doc?p=ARDX&docref=image/v2:135B950C9F3CF0C6@EANX-143E57AEC65087DC@2446156-143C170BC2BC270A@170-143C170BC2BC270A@. Accessed 26 Mar. 2018.

Richmond Times Dispatch, 14 July 1986, p. 18. Readex: Readex AllSearch, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/readex/doc?p=ARDX&docref=image/v2:135B950C9F3CF0C6@EANX-142AF21B19E5ED98@2446626-142707CA4365F702@17-142707CA4365F702@. Accessed 26 Mar. 2018.

Times-Picayune, 28 Apr. 1985, p. 52. Readex: Readex AllSearch, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/readex/doc?p=ARDX&docref=image/v2:1223BCE5B718A166@EANX-1334761827C6F28E@2446184-13317F70779C20F6@51-13317F70779C20F6@. Accessed 26 Mar. 2018.

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

After its initial reception, the fuss about Wouk’s change in style toned down. Since the book was not as successful as Wouk’s previous works, there was not much in the media in the subsequent years. However, despite the seemingly negative reviews, it did not hinder the applause for Wouk’s career. In fact, in 2004, it was said that “Inside, Outside” was “one of the funniest books Wouk has ever written” (Marti). The use of satire to cope with very serious subjects such as his Jewish identity and struggle with war play into his career at large, and are also reflected through his previous novels. Wouk was deemed as “one of the world’s greatest writers” (Lamolinara). When people open his stories they dive into a place that seems impossible: “when you open Herman Wouk’s novels, you open a door into which characters come to life against a sweeping background of epic events” (Lamolinara). It certainly did not change the relevance of Wouk’s career, the reviews just seem to die out after the first initial five years. The closest thing to a true autobiography, the work did not seem to set back Wouk’s legacy or the push for the acknowledgement of his Jewish identity. “Whether or not his work is now considered ‘fashionable’ or- not, he remains an author deserving of his place in American Letters” (Moskowitz). The use of humor in the darkest situations allows Wouk’s voice to shine through, making his career nothing short of authentic. The portrayal of Jewish identity has had lasting impacts, as the struggle that many Jews face was exemplified--pushing the discussion of what it actually is like to try and assimilate as an American Jew. This novel was actually used to explain situations that are found in the Torah, such as The 16th Chapter of Numbers--emphasizing that “The entire community is holy, and God is within them” (Zarchi). The idea of being Jewish on the inside but meshing with the outside and facing different conflicts outside of the community is a struggle within the Jewish culture. The real world implications of this title and Wouk’s life are informative and comforting for those who deal with the same situations. Ultimately, his story sheds light on religious texts and emphasizes the importance of Jewish culture. While some initial reactions to his humorous style and approach to his Judaism did not imply any serious result- the idea that Wouk focuses on is one that many people struggling with their Jewish identity can find comfort in. Thus, the lesson of this book seems to be one that many can find a haven within, especially those who struggle with balancing their American and Jewish identity.

Helpful Sources: 

Martí, Bibi. "Literature, Particle Physics and Judaism: Herman Wouk Discusses a Wide Variety of Subjects." Library of Congress Information Bulletin, vol. 63, no. 5/6, May/Jun2004, pp. 92-94. EBSCOhost, proxy01.its.virginia.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=llf&AN=502928416&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Moskowitz, Faye. 2016. A life well-navigated. Moment. Mar, http://proxy01.its.virginia.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1779872935?accountid=14678 (accessed March 28, 2018).

Zarchi, Shlomo. 2012. Mezuzah a reminder to live as Jews, at home and outside. The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California : J, Jun 22, 2012. http://proxy01.its.virginia.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1243346057?accountid=14678 (accessed March 28, 2018).

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

The novel “Inside, Outside” was written by Herman Wouk and published by Little, Brown, and Company in 1985. The book gained vast recognition as it appeared on the bestseller’s list, and topped charts. Author Herman Wouk has produced a multitude of bestsellers, many before the publication of this novel. His previous works before 1985 generated much discussion and were very popular, hitting the top 10 list. The definition and background this novel provides ultimately allows readers to hone in on Wouk’s personal life and the relationship he shares with his Jewish identity, along with the struggle to balance this with his American identity within his writing. While there was much initial mixed reception, the messages and personal touch that shine through Wouk’s words allow the reader to feel engaged to someone that is probably very different from them – a young Jewish man trying to find his place in the world. Many critics did not seem pleased with the quality of Wouk’s work, reflecting the idea that its popularity may have been due to hype from his previous success, and the fact that there was not much in the media after its initial release. Wouk uses a humorous persona to dive into the struggles of a modern Jew and his American identity. The issues he faces regarding the “inside” (his Jewish identity) vs. the “outside” (the world around him) draw on the contemporary issue of assimilation and the reality that Wouk himself had to face.

Wouk’s previous novels “Winds of War” and “The Caine Mutiny” were both huge successes. After these novels topped the charts, there was high anticipation for what Wouk would create next. Thus came “Inside, Outside”, and it is safe to say that critics were far from amused. The novel did not seem to match the style of his previous noteworthy titles. Wouk seemed to stray away from his typical style and add more of a comedic effect that seemed very forced at times. Many readers in the past loved his touch of comedy, and believed he was masterful at using it. However, in the past, Wouk seemed to incorporate this special touch of humor effortlessly, while still staying true to his literature. His previous novels were “absorbing on two levels as a historical novel at its best ought to be. It is engrossing fiction – complex but logical –with fascinating characters and palm – sweating action” (Beacham). Most of the criticisms focus on the sole aspect that the story of main character David Gookind “may be less fiction than loosely camouflaged Wouk autobiography packaged for the mass market” (Pinatrich). It was obvious that people believed his feeble attempt at another bestselling title were just masked by his overall desire to write somewhat of an autobiography – to have a chance to tell his story. While this was an amazing feat to tackle, it proved to shove the book out of the bestsellers list and out of the wide attention grip it once had. Compared to the success of previous titles, it was clear that readers had high anticipation and expectations for this novel that were not met. It did not have the sparkle- “’Inside, Outside’ fails because it is boring. Wouk has written all this stuff before” (Pintarich). Its popularity was most likely due to the buzz from previous novels and advertising, and mostly false expectations. It seems as if some people were confused or put off at Wouk’s attempts, however, those who spent the time and effort with the novel got something quite extraordinary out of the story! What “Inside, Outside” added to Wouk’s experience as a writer was something worth all of the criticism. People may have had the wrong expectations because of the previous novels’ wide success: “Wouk promises literature but only gives his readers thin entertainment” (Pintarich).  After the bad reviews sunk in, the novel was not as popular. However, the messages it provides give us much insight into Wouk’s experience navigating life as a Jewish American writer.

While this novel outlines many hardships young Jewish immigrants may face, it also continuously plays into the idea of assimilation in relation to internal conflicts. By illustrating the struggles of a young Jewish boy trying to find his place in the world, this novel was repeatedly compared to “Marjorie Morningstar” also written by Wouk years earlier, for its hints at a satirical approach to religion. The novel “is remarkably predictable in its story of a male Marjorie Morningstar who gradually discovers that it’s best to give up art and pretense and embrace the traditional ways of Jewish culture” (Lehman-Haupt). It was also argued that all in all, the comparisons between the two novels illustrate the importance of these conflicts across Wouk’s writing. On the flip side, “Inside, Outside” could even be viewed as exclusionary to Jewish readers, making them feel more isolated: “We Jews are just as low and dirty and laughable as all the Hebe jokes have made us out” (Lehman –Haupt). There was a sort of political controversy over what Wouk was trying to get out with all the “Jewish” jokes and dialogue. Did this work for or against the Jewish audience? Regardless of his intentions, the internal struggle protagonist Israel Goodkind faces is a reflection of Wouk’s own hardships. He is taking action “by making the history, culture and religion of immigrant American Jews readily accessible to readers of all backgrounds” (Mosher). A comical text like this allows readers to overlook some of the dire messages and focus in on the experience. Spreading his own experience in turn spreads knowledge, making the ideas that may not be as widely known available.

The central themes in this novel are exactly what the title reflects: the “inside” vs. the “outside”. Wouk identifies the inside as a place where a person can be comfortable within their Jewish identity, and the outside as the way the world interacts and influences this (also where anti-Semitism runs rampant). Wouk continuously emphasizes his own neglect of his “inside” as he struggled with the norms of American culture. The shame that he felt by ignoring his own identity made it hard to find balance between the two worlds at times, and Goodkind eventually realized what he was doing. For example, the lighthearted story of his Bobbeh’s famous sauerkraut. A delicatessen she prepares inside their home, drives their neighbors to make fun of and criticize them. Such a simple narrative harps on a much deeper issue – the struggle that many endure when trying to get others to understand a culture much different from their own, and how easy it is to feel shameful of something that is not the norm. When referring to Goodkind’s Bobbeh and her attachment to making sauerkraut, a man exclaims: “’She’s-a-mistake’” (Wouk). The dismissal of something so small moved his grandmother to cry – reflecting he historical controversy of accepting Jews in American territory. This ties into the pain that many immigrants face when trying their best to assimilate in a new culture. Adding emphasis on how easy it was for Goodkind to ignore where he came from, and feel the shame from outsiders’ jokes, the narrative continuously dwells on the dialogue that he struggles with when he is younger. This illustrates what he must have felt about embracing and being open about his identity, all the while trying to be “American” at the same time, given others’ criticisms. We can see the struggle with Jewish identity as each relationship develops and Goodkind explains a multitude of childhood experiences. For example: when Goodkind has his bar mitzvah he is ecstatic because he is having an article written in the paper about him. Only to his own horror does he realize the article exaggerates some of his accomplishments, and makes him look like a fool. This causes him to be rejected from an elite social group at school, and he turns into a laughing stock: “I faced it in silence, and let them joke and laugh themselves out. I didn’t say anything. I just stood there and took it” (Wouk 193). His easy retreat into letting the American boys have their way is a striking situation that can be used to illustrate the growth that Israel exemplifies as he matures into a balance between the two identities. How easy it was to let the outside have control! As the story progresses we can examine how the balance between the two realms comes to be. This reflects the internal dialogue that Wouk struggled with when he was younger, and throughout the story we can see the how he matures, and in turn uses the lessons he learned to become the man he was destined to be: a writer!


In addition to the childhood stories, the social and political controversies that underlie this tale are numerous. On one hand, you have the reference of the exploitation of the president with the Watergate scandal. Goodkind works for the scheming president and finds a friend in him, a very interesting occurrence. There is not much that Goodkind delves into about their relationship. So, I believe their friendship was meant to deflect from the political undertones and focus on the central idea: the experience of growing up as a Jewish immigrant in the Bronx and the struggle to incorporate an entirely new culture. The way that the story mirrors Wouk’s real life is quite obvious: While Wouk grew up as a young Jew in the Bronx, Goodkind does too. Goodkind’s involvement in the war reflect Wouk’s actual experiences as well. Many other aspects of the protagonist also embody Wouk’s life, such as when he decides to be a comedic writer. It is widely known that Wouk worked for comedian Fred Allen for some time. The most obvious aspect of Wouk’s life that is reflected is the saturation and pressure surrounding a Jewish lifestyle. At one point in his life, Wouk claimed “to hell with that noise” (concerning the Talmud, or Jewish Bible), illustrating the idea behind Goodkind’s journey with his own Jewish identity (bibliography.com). There is ambivalence behind his own religious roots and the use of comedy in his career as a writer, and this is exemplified through the stories he tells. This also reflects the push and pull between Goodkind’s Jewish and American identity. We can see the conflict that exists in reality. Different realms of Judaism are also emphasized, such as that of the Zionist influence of his father, which obviously had a huge impact on Wouk as a writer in his real life. Due to these examples, it is evident that Goodkind is the literary parallel to Wouk. Because we have his background on these pages, we can understand the hardships Wouk faced and how they may have shaped him as an author. The final line of the novel: “’Call me Israel’” (Wouk 644) reflects Wouk’s entire motive and says much about his personal identification with Goodkind, tying up the long journey that was his childhood. This is also an allusion to the famous story of “Moby Dick”, as Ishmael was the rejected son of Abraham and Israel or Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. This brings together all of Wouk’s insight about American writing, Judaism, and the introduction to Zionism and allows the character development to come full circle. These three realms combine and we are able to relate to Wouk on a level where he is in touch with his many roots- in a place where the “inside” and the “outside” aren’t at competition. Goodkind comes to terms with his place in America as a Jewish man, and in turn we can hopefully assume that Wouk has as well. We can use this assumption to examine other works, and how his childhood may have been an influence.

The clash between history and cultural practices and social norms allow “Inside, Outside” to be completely relatable. It is not easy balancing life when you are a minority trying to navigate a new culture and way of life. The tale of Israel Goodkind ultimately opens up a dialogue that gives acknowledgment to the uneasiness that many immigrants must face internally and hopefully promotes a more understanding environment. The humorous small details that Wouk weaves into this larger narrative allow his novel to function as a voice for the Jewish people by shedding light on personal conflicts. The lightheartedness of childhood stories filter in to the bigger picture of internal dialogue. This message could be worth all the backlash the book initially received, providing insight into an author’s life that allow us to appreciate and understand his Jewish perspective. It is only necessary that Wouk had a chance to give us a glimpse of his personal life – whether the critics thought so or not. This novel adds more of a voice about the role of his Jewish identity and the balance Wouk has not only had to find in writing, but in America as well.




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