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The Writer Uprooted

Contemporary Jewish Exile Literature

Edited by Alvin H. Rosenfeld

Publication Year: 2008

The Writer Uprooted is the first book to examine the emergence of a new generation of Jewish immigrant authors in America, most of whom grew up in formerly communist countries. In essays that are both personal and scholarly, the contributors to this collection chronicle and clarify issues of personal and cultural dislocation and loss, but also affirm the possibilities of reorientation and renewal. Writers, poets, translators, and critics such as Matei Calinescu, Morris Dickstein, Henryk Grynberg, Geoffrey Hartman, Eva Hoffman, Katarzyna Jerzak, Dov-Ber Kerler, Norman Manea, Zsuzsanna Ozsvath, Lara Vapnyar, and Bronislava Volkova describe how they have coped creatively with the trials of displacement and the challenges and opportunities of resettlement in a new land and, for some, authorship in a new language.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Jewish Literature and Culture


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xvi

According to the Hebrew Bible, the story of mankind unfolds between the poles of exile and redemption—the pains of being cast out and the pleasures of homecoming. Adam, banished from the paradisal garden, stands forth as the original exile. Abraham, the...

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Nomadic Language

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pp. 1-26

Kafka did not often write about the country in which he was born, but he did write about the language—that is, the homeland— which he came to inhabit. In this connection, he spoke about “impossibilities” and of the use of the German language...

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On Norman Manea’s The Hooligan’s Return

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pp. 27-50

The three major, interwoven, and recurrent themes of Norman Manea’s oeuvre (both fiction and nonfiction) are the experience of the Holocaust as a child during World War II; living and writing under a totalitarian system—namely, the Romanian version...

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Writing about Uprootedness

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pp. 51-74

I had been uprooted a long time before coming to America. First, when I became homeless at the age of six, I had to hide like an animal or criminal, forget I had ever been a Jew, and assume a gentile Christian identity. A couple of years later, among...

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Exile as Life after Death in the Writings of Henryk Grynberg and Norman Manea

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pp. 75-91

It is a delicate task to write about a living author and even harder to speak about his work to his face. When several years ago I gave a lecture at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, my subject was living authors1—W. Sebald, Stefan Chwin, and...

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The Writer as Tour Guide

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pp. 92-109

About a year ago I received a letter from a recent Russian immigrant who had read my work in the New Yorker. He wrote that my stories made him uncomfortable because of the overpowering figure of the presumed reader, who, as he felt, was influencing...

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Questions of Identity: The New World of the Immigrant Writer

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pp. 110-132

When I was growing up in the 1950s there was no such thing as immigrant literature, though brilliant émigré intellectuals like Hannah Arendt played an important part in the cultural debates of the time. We certainly didn’t know that we were living through...

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A Displaced Scholar’s Tale: The Jewish Factor

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pp. 133-160

This is a story without suspense, drama, or crises of conscience. That will make you suspicious. But you cannot be more suspicious of myself than I am. Having the privilege of choosing where to begin, I do so with my arrival in the States; and this puts...

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Exile: Inside and Out

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pp. 161-176

Going into exile happens almost unnoticeably. You may think about it for a long time before you actually “commit the crime”; however, nothing prepares you for the brutal impact of actually doing it or for the extent of its implications. Suddenly you are in...

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From Country to Country: My Search for Home

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pp. 177-215

I left Budapest on a cold, windy morning in March 1957. I had lain in bed wide awake throughout the night before, and even when I dozed off for a minute or two, I was stabbed by a sharp pain that compelled me to cry constantly. The separation from...

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Finding a Virtual Home for Yiddish Poetry in Southern Indiana

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pp. 216-233

How uprooted is a person who insists on writing in a language that is itself homeless? Other writers represented in this book on contemporary Jewish exile literature have moved between countries, cultures, and languages, ultimately reaching and settling on the...

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pp. 234-246

The history of exile—understood in its broadest sense as longterm displacement from one’s native region—is by now very long and informatively varied. In its strongest form, exile refers to forcible expulsion, to leaving your country or place of habitation..

List of Contributors

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pp. 247-249


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pp. 251-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780253000361
E-ISBN-10: 025300036X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253351449

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Jewish Literature and Culture
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OCLC Number: 298668060
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Writer Uprooted

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Subject Headings

  • Jewish authors -- Europe, Eastern.
  • Immigrants -- United States.
  • Exiles' writings -- History and criticism.
  • American literature -- Jewish authors -- History and criticism.
  • American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Identity (Philosophical concept) in literature.
  • Jews -- United States -- Intellectual life.
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