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Other Things Being Equal

By Emma Wolf Edited with an Introduction by Barbara Cantalupo

Publication Year: 2002

Widely regarded as a literary genius in her day, the Jewish American author Emma Wolf (1865-1932) wrote vivid stories that penetrated the struggles of women and people of faith, particularly Jews, at the turn of the twentieth century. This reissue of the 1916 revised edition of one of her most popular novels, Other Things Being Equal, first published in 1892, introduces Wolf to a new generation of readers, immersing them in an interfaith love story set in her native San Francisco in the late nineteenth century. The novel's protagonist, Ruth Levice, a young intellectual from an upper-class Jewish family, meets Dr. Herbert Kemp, a Unitarian, and falls in love. The novel's force lies in its unwillingness to adhere to ideological stands. A woman need not give up marriage and home to be strong, independent, and unconventional; a Jew does not have to be orthodox to remain close to her heritage and her faith.

Published by: Wayne State University Press


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pp. 1-2


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pp. 3-4


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p. 5-5


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p. 6-6


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pp. 5-6

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pp. 7-8

Researching Emma Wolf's biography was an adventure that began at the Judah Magnes Center in Berkeley in 1992, where I found an article by Richard Tornheim on the pioneers of Contra Costa County. This proved to be the vital piece of evidence that I needed to uncover the details of Emma Wolf's life. ...

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pp. 9-58

Born in San Francisco on 15 June 1865 to Simon and Annette (Levy) Wolf, immigrants from Alsace,1 Emma Wolf was the fourth of eleven children,2 She grew up in the upper-middle-class San Francisco neighborhood of Pacific Heights where she and her family were members of Congregation Emanu-El.3 ...

Other Things Being Equal

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pp. 59-60

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pp. 61-62

In presenting this revised edition to a new generation, the author feels that the element of change has touched very lightly the romantic potentialities obtaining at the time of the original writing, and which still obtain. Christian youth still chances upon Jewish youth, with the same difference of historic background, ...

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Chapter I

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pp. 63-70

A humming bird dipped through the air and lit upon the palm tree just below the open window, the long, drowsy call of a crowing cock came from afar off; up through a hazy splendor the city lifted its jocund hills. It was a rarely beautiful summer afternoon in old San Francisco. ...

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Chapter II

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pp. 71-77

Herbert Kemp stood looking down upon the golden-haired slip of a girl seated upon a divan near the conservatory. The soft strains of remote stringed instruments chimed in harmoniously with their low-voiced converse, and he listened with evident enjoyment to her incessant babble, the naïveté of which was somewhat belied by the bright-glancing search of her regard. ...

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Chapter III

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pp. 78-82

The Levices' house stood well back upon its grounds, almost with an air of reserve in comparison with the rows of stately, bay-windowed houses facing it and hedging it in on both sides. But the broad, sweeping lawns, the confusion of exquisite roses and heliotropes, the open path to the veranda, ...

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Chapter IV

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pp. 83-90

Louis Arnold, the only other member of the Levice family, had been forced to leave town on business the morning after Mrs. Levice's attack at the Merrill reception. He was, therefore, much surprised and shocked on his return, a week later, to find his aunt in bed and such rigorous measures for quiet in vogue. ...

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Chapter V

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pp. 91-99

Ruth Levice's taste in dress was part of her distinction. Indeed, any little jealousy her lovely presence might occasion was usually summed up in the terse truism,' "Fine feathers make fine birds" ...

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Chapter VI

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pp. 100-106

They walked directly into a bare, dark hallway. There was no one stirring, and Kemp softly opened the door of one of several rooms leading into the passage. Here a broad band of yellow sunlight fell unrestrained athwart the waxen face of a sleeping boy. The rest of the simple, meager room was in shadow. ...

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Chapter VII

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pp. 107-110

Mrs. Levice was slowly gaining the high-road to recovery, and many of the restrictions for her cure had been removed. As a consequence, and with an eye ever to Ruth's social duties, she urged her to leave her more and more to herself. ...

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Chapter VIII

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pp. 111-115

There are few communities, comparatively speaking, with more enthusiastic theater-lovers than are to be found in San Francisco. The play was one of the few worldly pleasures Mr. Levice thoroughly enjoyed. When a great star was heralded, he was in a feverish delight until he had come and gone. ...

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Chapter IX

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pp. 116-123

Everybody knows the sad old drama, as differently interpreted in its graver sentiment as there are different interpreters. Ruth had seen one who made of Shylock merely a fawning, mercenary, loveless, bloodthirsty wretch. She had seen another who presented a man of quick wit, ready tongue, great dignity, greater vengeance, silent of love, wordy of hate. ...

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Chapter X

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pp. 124-131

The penciled note was handed to Ruth early the next morning as she stood in the kitchen beating up eggs for an omelette for her mother's breakfast. A smile of mingled surprise and amusement overspread her face as she read, and, turning the card, she saw, "Herbert Kemp, M.D.," as she had surmised. ...

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Chapter XI

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pp. 132-139

She told her mother in a few words at luncheon that she had arranged to take Spanish lessons from a young protégé of Dr. Kemp's who had been ill and was in want, "And I was thinking," she added with naive policy, "that I might combine a little business with pleasure this afternoon ...

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Chapter XII

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pp. 140-151

If Ruth, in the privacy of her heart, realized that she was sailing toward dangerous rapids, the premonition gave her no unpleasant fears. Possibly she was reckless, content to glide forever on her smooth stream of delight. When the sun blinds us we cannot see the warning black lurking in the far horizon. ...

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Chapter XIII

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pp. 152-160

It was August. The Levices had purposely postponed leaving town until the gay, merry-making crowds had disappeared, when Mrs, Levice, in the quiet of autumn, could put a crown to her recovery. ...

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Chapter XIV

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pp. 161-169

Beacham's lies in a dimple of the inner coast range, and was reached then through what was, in that day, one of the finest pieces of engineering skill in the State. The tortuous route through the mountains, over trestle-bridges which span what seem, from the car-windows, like bottomless chasms, ...

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Chapter XV

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pp. 170-177

Mr. Levice, sauntering down the garden-path, saw the trio approaching. For a moment he did not recognize the newcomer in his summer attire. When he did, surprise, then pleasure, then a spirit of inquietude, took possession of him. He had been unexpectedly startled on the night of Ruth's birthday by a vague something in Kemp's eyes. ...

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Chapter XVI

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pp. 178-187

At six o'clock the hills in their soft carpet of dull browns and greens were gently warming under the sun's first rays. At seven the early train which Dr. Kemp purposed taking would leave. Ruth, with this knowledge at heart, had noiselessly risen and left the cottage. Close behind the depot rose a wooded hill ...

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Chapter XVII

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pp. 188-200

Monday night had come. As Ruth half hid a pale-yellow bud in her heavy, low-coiled hair, the gravity of her mien seemed to deepen. This was partially the result of her father's expressive countenance and voice. If he had smiled, it had been such a faint flicker that it was forgotten in the look of repression which had followed. ...

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Chapter XVIII

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pp. 201-205

"Ruth," he said softly. But she did not move. His own face showed signs of the emotions through which he had passed, but was peaceful as if after a long, triumphant struggle. He came nearer and laid his hand gently upon her shoulder. ...

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Chapter XIX

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pp. 206-209

Dr. Kemp tossed the reins to his man, sprang from his carriage, and hurried into his house, "Burke!" he called while closing the door, "Burke!" He walked toward the back of the house and into the kitchen, still calling. Finding it empty, he walked back again and began a still hunt about the pieces of furniture in the various rooms. ...

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Chapter XX

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pp. 210-216

We do not live wholly through ourselves. What is called fate is but the outcome of the spinning of other individuals twisted into the woof of our own making; so no life may be judged as a unit. ...

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Chapter XXI

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pp. 217-223

The firelight threw grotesque shadows on the walls. Ruth and Louis in the library made no movement to light up; it was quite cosy as it was. They had both drawn near the crackling woodblaze, Ruth's finger keeping her place within her closed book, Arnold lost in thought in Mr. Levice's broad easy-chair. ...

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Chapter XXII

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pp. 224-230

Mr. Levice's gaze strayed pensively from the violets she was embroidering to Ruth's pale face. Every time the latter stirred, her mother started expectantly, but the anxiously awaited disclosure was not forthcoming. Outside, the rain kept up a sullen downpour, deepening the sense of comfort within; ...

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Chapter XXIII

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pp. 231-242

The next day passed like a nightmare. To add to the misery of her secret, her mother began to fidget over the continued lack of any communication from her husband. Had the weather been fair, Ruth would have insisted on her going out with her, but to the rain of the day before was added a heavy wind-storm ...

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Chapter XXIV

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pp. 243-249

The sun shone with its usual winter favoritism upon San Francisco this Thursday morning. After the rain the air felt as exhilarating as a day in spring. Young girls tripped forth "in their figures," as the French have it, and even the matrons unfastened their wraps under the genial wooing of sunbeams. ...

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Chapter XXV

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pp. 250-256

Shafts of pale sunlight darted into the room and rested on Mr. Levice's hair, covering it with a silver glory. They trailed along the silken coverlet, but stopped there, one little beam straying slowly, and almost as if with intention, toward Arnold, seated near the foot of the bed. ...

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Chapter XXVI

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pp. 257-262

Herbert Kemp and Dr. Stephens stood quietly talking to Mr. Levice. The latter seemed weaker since his exertion of the morning, and his head lay back among the pillows as if the support were necessary. Still, his eager eyes were keenly fastened upon the close-lipped mouth and broad, ...

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Chapter XXVII

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pp. 263-268

Rose Delano seated herself opposite her friend in the library the Thursday evening after the funeral. They looked so different in the waning light—Ruth in soft black, her white face shining like a lily above her somber gown, Rose, like a bright fire-fly, perched on a cricket, her cheeks rosy, her eyes sparkling from walking against the sharp, cold wind. ...


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pp. 269-274

E-ISBN-13: 9780814337752
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814330227

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 1
Publication Year: 2002