The Literary Career of Joseph Jacobs, 1876-1900*

Joseph Jacobs was a very remarkable man. The Dictionary of American Biography tells us, with a beguilingly bland air, that his special interests as an undergraduate were ‘mathe? matics, history, philosophy, anthropology and general literature’.1 This kind of diversity in interests and talents was something which typified his whole life, and it is underlined by the enormous variety of the sources one has to turn to in order to evaluate his career. Even when one has finally located all these sources, one is constantly confronted with such state? ments as: Tf Jacobs had not been remembered as a Judaic scholar, folklorist, historian, man of letters’, and so on, ‘he would have been re? membered as an anthropologist, literary critic, statistician, controversialist’ or some other equally improbable field of achievement. The limits of my own knowledge and interest make it quite clear that I can only discuss a very small part

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