The Jewish Character in ‘Downton Abbey’
Comment of the Week
Winner gets a free Nextbook Press book appropriate to his or her comment (if he or she emails me at firstname.lastname@example.org with his or her mailing address).
This week’s winner is “Jenny,” who offered a bit of constructive criticism to Amanda Walgrove’s essay last Friday on the BBC series Downtown Abbey. The conceit of Walgrove’s essay is that the Granthams, the central family, are well understood through a comparison to Tevye’s clan in Fiddler on the Roof, despite the fact that these North Yorkshire aristocrats are, of course, not Jews.
But not so fast, notes Jenny. Viewers know that Lady Grantham (first name: Cora), whose marriage to Lord Grantham brough a large dowry that saved the estate some years ago, is actually American: that is as plain as her accent. What is apparently unmentioned within the show, but is described in her biography on the official Downton Abbey website, is this: “Cora is the beautiful daughter of Isidore Levinson, a dry goods multi millionaire from Cincinnati.”
For this discovery, Jenny receives our undying gratitude as well as a copy of Adam Kirsch’s biography of perhaps Britain’s most famous (onetime) Jew, Benjamin Disraeli.