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170 SHOFAR Winter 1993 Vol. 11, No.2 book, one wishes for fewer recorded conversations between Davidman and her subjects (which become dull and repetitive after several chapters), and more critical reflection on the social background of these women. Why do some Jewish women fight for change and full inclusion, challenging the legitimacy of centuries of male rabbis defining the nature of womanhood, while others find fulfillment in following the established paths? What factors permit a woman to accept the words of a Lubavitcher rabbi that being a wife and mother is the only road to fulfillment for a woman, while others pursue degrees in medicine, law, academic, or even ordination as rabbis? Davidman's book presents some interesting data, and encourages us to raise the critical questions that will bring us closer to understanding the phenomenon she describes. Susannah Heschel Abba Hillel Silver Associate Professor ofJewish Studies Case Western Reserve University Allegra Maud Goldman, by Edith Konecky. New York: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1990. 187 pp. $9.95. The printing history ofthis enchanting novel of self-discovery may well serve as a reflection of its growing significance in the fifteen years since it was written. First published by Harper & Row in 1976, it barely merited a paragraph in the Hadassah Magazine book review section-the onlyJewish publication that noticed the novel's relevance to a Jewish readership. In the spirit of the 1970s, the reviewer focused on the author's anger over the obstacles put in her way by stagnant societal values and judgments about girls. Remarking somewhat dryly that such insights are usually achieved by eight years of solid therapy and consciousness-raising groups, and not by a five- to eight-year-old girl, the reviewer nevertheless advised Edith Konecky to keep developing her "first rate talent for dialogue and humor."l This talent, and the growing awareness of Allegra Maud Goldman's importance in the context of Jewish-American literature, no doubt prompted the Jewish Publication Society to reprint the novel in 1986. This edition was introduced by Tillie Olsen, who testified to the book's charm, 'Hadassah Magazine: JuneJ1uly 1977, v. 58:24. Book Reviews 171 wit, and lasting values. Allegra's intellect, creativity, and insight made the novel a permanent part of her world and the world of her children. And now, almost two decades after she was first introduced, Allegra Maud Goldman is at it again, this time picked up by the Feminist Press at the City University of New York, and lovingly "wrapped" by a reprint of Tillie Olsen's introduction and an afterWord by Bella Brodzki. Allegra Maud Goldman, girl, second child, is born into an uppermiddle class Jewish family in pre-World War II America. Allegra's narration of her life as a Jewish girl in the 1940s begins, appropriately enough, with a pained comment about the oddity of her being as reflected in her unusual name. This observation is immediately followed by an episode in which she gets lost. This overture sets the tone and the pattern for the events about to unfold in the book. Always at a loss about her place in the world, and forever questioning situations and rules that make no sense to her, Allegra Maud Goldman is there, observing the world with a child-like clarity that cannot be confused with innocence or naivete. Her refreshing perspective, as sharp as her tongue, serves as a honing device for issues of gender, class, religious affiliation, faith, and self-worth. Why can't Allegra have her brother's privileges? Why does she have to mother him, although she is younger? Why are the expectations from her different just because of her gender? What does Judaism have to say about it all? What social contracts benefit or discriminate against her in her relationship with her father, her mother, her brother, her teachers? The typical answer she gets is the same: "Be quiet. Who do you think you are to question thousands of years of religious tradition?" Her answer is typical too: "who did I think I was? Who was I? Allegra Maud Goldman ..." (p. 123). Her hyperactive mind chases the reader through the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 170-172
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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