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  • Abstracts

Daniel Marom

Who Is the "Mother of Exiles"? An inquiry into Jewish Aspects of Emma Lazarus's "The New Colossus"

This article exposes the influence and expression of Emma Lazarus's Jewish background and literary heritage in her renowned sonnet on The Statue of Liberty, "The New Colossus." Despite no explicit reference to Jews or Judaic sources, the poem's profoundly Jewish character is disclosed through a close look at the context in which it emerged, its place in Lazarus's biographical and artistic development, and its actual content. "The New Colossus" would seem to give voice to local aversion to the presumptuous French gesture of bestowing Liberty upon America by rejecting its original symbolism and suggesting one that transforms the Statue into a New World heroine. However, Lazarus wrote the poem when her energies and writing were primarily devoted to championing the cause of Jewish refugees fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe in the early 1880's. Moreover, a record of its commission clearly reveals that she was enticed to write the sonnet on the basis of this concern. Thus, in the work itself, Lazarus shrewdly stated her case for the American intake of Jewish immigrants by not referring to them directly and attempting instead to compel her audience to live up to a Hebraic definition of America as redeemer of persecuted peoples. It is claimed that Lazarus ventured this feat by drawing her image of the Statue from a Jewish tradition that viewed the biblical matriarch Rachel as "Mother of Exiles."

Brian Britt

Romantic Roots of the Debate on the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible

Siegfried Kracauer's criticism of the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible translation reflects his views on religion and contemporary culture. While the translators felt a new [End Page 388] German Bible could provide fresh religious insight and experience to modern Jewish readers, Kracauer, like Walter Benjamin, argued that modern culture itself was the site of modern religiosity. "For today," wrote Kracauer, "access to truth is by way of the profane." The sharp exchanges between the translators and Kracauer have more to do with ideas of religion and culture than with matters of style and translation. Yet both sides of the debate were influenced heavily by romantic ideas of language and translation from Humboldt, Hamann, Schleiermacher, and Goethe. In this essay, I argue that Benjamin and Kracauer were engaged in projects that aspired to the same kind of romantic ideals as the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible.

Joseph Sherman and Henrietta Mondry

Russian Dogs and Jewish Russians: Reading Israel Joshua Singer's "Liuk" in a Russian Literary Context

This paper offers a close critical reading of I. J. Singer's little-noted short story "Liuk." This story is read in a Russian rather than Yiddish literary context to show the way in which Singer, writing as a Jew disillusioned with the false messianic promise of the Russian Revolution, engages in a polemic with the established equation of dogs with Jews in nineteenth-century Russian literature. Tracing the development of this typology through a range of Russian fiction and poetry from Pushkin to Blok, this analysis seeks to demonstrate that Russian folk proverbs, as much as literary typologies developed from folk attitudes, equated dogs with Jews in the Russian popular consciousness. This attitude, while undergoing significant changes through the course of the nineteenth century in regard to Russian attitudes towards dogs, remained fundamentally unchanged in regard to Jews, even after the Revolution. By drawing on the Russian literary tradition in relation to Singer's treatment of a typological pairing of "general" and "dog" in this story, this paper seeks to illustrate Singer's hardening conviction that the world as he saw it was irredeemably animalistic, and that, however unconsciously, his work as a whole remained rooted in a determination to prove, through fiction, the truth of the biblical teaching that "the pre-eminence of man over beast is as naught." [End Page 389]

Yigal Schwartz

The Person, the Path, and the Melody: A Brief History of Identity in Israeli Literature

This article uses the image of life as path to trace the changes in Israeli identity since the founding of the State. The poetry of Natan Alterman, to begin with, foregrounds...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3311
Print ISSN
0272-9601
Pages
pp. 388-390
Launched on MUSE
2000-09-01
Open Access
No
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