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  • “A Grave Experiment”: Emma Wolf’s Marriage Plots and the Deghettoization of American Jewish Fiction

Most scholars of American literary history are familiar with William Dean Howells’s championing of ghetto fiction, especially the work of immigrant writer Abraham Cahan, for the way such writing exemplified the aesthetic principles of realism. For Howells, writers of “the Hebraic school” such as Cahan displayed an “instinct for reality,” and the streets of New York provided them with raw material that lent itself well to being rendered in gritty detail.1 The fiction of ghetto writers succeeds because they “persuade us that they have told the truth,” explained Howells.2 Yet scholars have paid considerably less attention to realist Jewish American writers whose work is set outside the ghetto. This essay focuses on one such writer, Emma Wolf, whose novels about middle-class Jewish life in late nineteenth-century San Francisco offer important alternatives to the ghetto genre, demonstrating not only the diversity of the Jewish experience in the United States, but also the diverse ways that Jewish writers have contributed to understandings of race, ethnicity, and religion in American culture.

Despite Howells’ praise of ghetto fiction, the genre had its fair share of detractors in its day. In both the mainstream and Jewish press, critics accused Jewish writers of sacrificing truth for caricature and exoticism [End Page 5] in their depictions of ghetto life, betraying their own people as well as the very principles of realism that Howells extolled. The debate about whether or not the ghetto was a fit subject for literary art initially came to a head over the publication of Cahan’s 1896 novella Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto and the 1899 play Children of the Ghetto, an adaptation of the novel by British writer Israel Zangwill, whose stories of the London ghetto and subsequent drama about American immigrants, The Melting Pot (1908), profoundly influenced many Jewish American writers.3 The dissenters were largely upper-class Jews from German and Sephardic backgrounds who wanted to distance themselves from their newly arrived, Eastern European co-religionists and who feared that they would be associated with such lowly literary representations of the ghetto Jew, with his broken English, unrefined manners, and outdated traditions. In the American Israelite, for instance, Julius Wise, a prominent Chicago physician who wrote under the pseudonym “Nickerdown,” issued a scathing attack on Cahan, accusing him of “intentionally exaggerat[ing] what is worst among his own class of people,” labeling him “a scoundrel [who lies] for the sake of a few dollars,” and calling for a boycott of magazines that publish his “vile lucubration.”4

A more measured critique came from the pen of writer Annie Nathan Meyer. A Sephardic Jew who dated her family’s American heritage back to the Revolution, Meyer was a public advocate of women’s education and other causes, well known in philanthropic circles for her role in raising the funds to start Barnard College. While acknowledging the “genius” of Zangwill and Cahan, Meyer summarized the concerns of her affluent, professional class in this way:

They realize perfectly that the foreign-looking, strange-speaking Hebrew of the Ghetto, with Talmudic lore at the end of his tongue, and a frayed talith at the end of his shoulder, is infinitely better “copy” than the Talmudically ignorant Americanized Hebrew, who drives in his automobile or sits with his Gentile brethren on charitable boards and missions. The Americanized Hebrew is growing a little tired of this reiteration of the Ghetto type which the Gentile world find so interesting within the covers of a book. After all, when the good American used to be piqued because the cowboy filled the horizon of literary London, it was given him to point to some novels dealing with the average American banker who prefers to take his promenades without his six-shooter. But to the Americanized Hebrew is denied in toto the luxury of pointing to any literature that pretends to describe him seriously . . . [End Page 6] [T]here is implanted in the breast of the Jew, quite as well as in the breast of his Gentile brother, the . . . desire to hold up his resemblances rather than his differences. The Jew is doing his best to show off his fine Oxford cloth coat of latest cut, while the public persists in looking for the gabardine.

Meyer’s response goes deeper than the shame voiced by Wise. The common representation of the ghetto Jew is not simply an “academic question of Art,” she writes, but also “a very real social problem.” Given Jews’ history of exile and the antisemitism that continued to plague even upper-class Jews who found themselves “bracketed with ‘dogs and other nuisances’ at some select hotels and apartment houses,” she asked if it was not wiser for Jewish writers to promote their similarities to, rather than their differences from, gentiles.5

Meyer only occasionally gave voice to what she called “the unwritten-up Jew” in her own fiction,6 but her contemporary, California writer Emma Wolf, published two novels, Other Things Being Equal (1892) and Heirs of Yesterday (1900), which featured cultured, professional, well-off Jews who could not be differentiated from their gentile neighbors except in their religious practices and affiliations. Both are domestic novels, relying on the conventions of the marriage plot, but with a Jewish twist. In Other Things Being Equal, Wolf’s first novel, the cultural taboo against intermarriage presents an obstacle for a Jewish protagonist in love with a Christian man, while the would-be lovers at the center of Heirs of Yesterday, though both Jewish by birth, find themselves divided over whether they should continue to identify as such. In its front-page review of Heirs of Yesterday, the Jewish Messenger identified Wolf as “one of the rare exceptions to the general rule” in the recent explosion of Jewish fiction. “She is to be expressly omitted from the category of [End Page 7] Jewish novelists who exploit their religion and special class of people and call the result literature,” the article stated, going on to note that Wolf’s “delicacy, spirituality, [and] intellectuality are not restricted to Jewish subjects, although she has written with power and suggestiveness on certain Jewish character-studies and problems.”7 The fact that Wolf did not limit herself to Jewish subjects drew notice from other critics as well. In his review of The Joy of Life (1896), one of Wolf’s novels without Jewish characters, Zangwill described “the Jewish Authoress” as much more than a “popular ‘lady novelist.’” Her work “stands out luminous and arrestive amid the thousand-and-one tales of our overproductive generation,” wrote Zangwill, while another review of The Joy of Life concluded with this declaration: “Emma Wolf is not only the best Jewish fiction writer of America, but the peer of the best novelists.”8

Largely overlooked today even by scholars of American Jewish fiction, Wolf’s writings, as well as her background, compel a re-evaluation of early Jewish American literary history, which has positioned Eastern European immigrant writers as its forefathers and foremothers and New York as its cultural epicenter.9 In surveying the roots of Jewish American literature, scholars have gravitated toward writers such as Cahan and Anzia Yezierska, whose dialect-speaking characters and ghetto settings better fit the broader paradigms of ethnic studies. The work of Eastern European immigrants has more in common with texts by African American, Asian American, and Latino/a writers, who, unlike Jews, are indisputably “other.” In Progressive Era San Francisco, the largest and most visible part of the Jewish population was middle class, and Jews with money rarely qualify as “ethnic.” Yet Western, middle-class writers such as Wolf played a significant part in shaping some of the key concepts in ethnic studies. By focusing on an American-born woman writer based in San Francisco, this essay “deghettoizes” American Jewish fiction, expanding our understanding of fin-de-siècle Jewish literary [End Page 8] culture in the United States in terms of gender, class, and region. In so doing, I hope to offer a more capacious interpretation of what constitutes an ethnic literary tradition.

It is not incidental that Wolf’s first novel utilized an intermarriage plot. Though most closely associated with the Victorian novel in Britain and domestic and sentimental fiction in the nineteenth-century United States, the marriage plot continued to have resonance for Progressive Era writers, many of whom used it to explore gender and class politics, to mark the breakdown of separate-spheres ideology, and to agitate for matrimonial reform.10 Intermarriage, meanwhile, has long been one of the most prevalent themes in American fiction by and about Jews, as well as one of the most hotly debated topics in American Jewish life. As Jews and Christians increasingly intermarried in the nineteenth century,11 the topic entered the public discourse, with, on the one hand, rabbis sermonizing against it and, on the other, eugenicists fueling nativist fears by warning of the threat to Anglo-Saxon purity. Because Jewishness was viewed as an ethno-racial difference as well as a religious one, the debate over marriage between Christians and Jews was part of a larger discourse about interracial coupling and miscegenation.12 Intermarriage, then, was a loaded trope, a means for those within and outside the Jewish community to express and explore anxieties about immigration and assimilation, intermixing and racial purity, and loss of religious faith and tradition in a modern, increasingly secular world. Fiction provided a relatively safe space in which to imagine tragic consequences, not only of intermarriage, but also of the prohibition on interethnic romance. It also provided a space in which to imagine the possibilities that inter-marriage held for the betterment of Jewish lives and American culture in the future.

Wolf’s intermarriage plot differs in significant ways from the more familiar ones that have entered the canon of Jewish American fiction, and it thus defies many of the critical paradigms established about interethnic relations. Most tellingly, although Wolf’s Other Things Being Equal explores controversies about intermarriage, it ultimately offers a harmonious vision. Rather than cautioning that exogamy may signal [End Page 9] the demise of the Jewish people, Wolf’s novel pushes for acceptance of intermarriage as a barometer of social equality and a testament to the sacredness of love between soul mates. In this respect, Wolf’s views differ from those of many other Jewish writers as well as those of prominent religious leaders.13 Some of Wolf’s optimism about intermarriage may be attributed to differences of gender; because liberal and traditional Judaism of the time determined descent by matrilineality, Jewish women who intermarried did not necessarily threaten the continuance of their people. However, Wolf’s vision of intermarriage as an ideal also bears notable similarities to one of the most famous male-authored representations of interethnic romance in American culture: the passionate relationship between Jewish composer David Quixano and Christian settlement worker Vera Revendal in Zangwill’s The Melting Pot. Using the Quixano-Revendal union to represent America as a “fusion” of different races, Zangwill’s 1908 play popularized the concept of the “melting pot” as an enduring, if contested, metaphor for American identity in the twentieth century. As this essay shows, Wolf actively stirred the pot that produced that potent metaphor.

In my analysis of Wolf’s fiction, and by considering her relationship with and to Zangwill, I demonstrate her importance to theories of American ethnic identity and her centrality to transnational American literary history. Though Wolf and Zangwill never met in person, their correspondence and reviews of each other’s books provide evidence of their mutual influence on one another—and, in turn, on American culture. This essay begins by providing background on Wolf and examining how she used the conventions of the marriage plot as a means of negotiating Jewish sameness and difference in relation to gentile America. I argue that Wolf challenges the dominant critical paradigms established by literary critics and historians such as Leslie Fiedler, Frederic Cople Jaher, and Adam Sol, who have addressed the relationship between intermarriage and assimilation in early Jewish American fiction. In Wolf’s work, interfaith union is not a means of upward mobility, but instead an experiment in social equality between Jews and Christians. Wolf’s plea for religious tolerance is imbricated with her characters’ negotiations of white American identity, which occur in relation to other ethno-racial groups and, in Heirs of Yesterday, against the backdrop of late-nineteenth-century expansionism. In extending the scope of Progressive Era Jewish literary [End Page 10] history beyond the ghetto tale, Wolf’s fiction complicates the relationship between Jewish texts and ethnic studies, offering new insights into the processes of comparative racialization and, finally, opening space for considerations of Jewish cultural engagements with U.S. imperialism.

The Intermarriage Plot: Other Things Being Equal

According to established genealogies of Jewish literary history, modern Jewish American fiction began with the ghetto tale.14 But Wolf, arguably the first Jewish American woman novelist to achieve renown, was no child of the ghetto. Born in San Francisco in 1865, she grew up in a large family of French-Alsatian pioneers. Among the first Jewish settlers in the Bay Area, her father, Simon Wolf, was a successful businessman who established cigar and general merchandise stores in San Francisco and Contra Costa County. The Wolfs belonged to Temple Emanu-El, a congregation founded by traders and merchants during the Gold Rush of 1849. By the late nineteenth century, Emanu-El, under the leadership of Rabbis Elkan Cohn and Jacob Voorsanger, had become one of the nation’s leading Reform synagogues, initiating looser interpretations of religious law in order “to remake the Jewish liturgy, ritual, and credo to suit the values of the New World.”15 Members of Emanu-El formed [End Page 11] an elite society of Jews who had emigrated from Central Europe in the mid-nineteenth century and who lived as neighbors in upper-middle-class Pacific Heights, the setting for several of Wolf’s novels. Although the Jews of Emanu-El modeled their community and social lives on those of their gentile neighbors, they continued to identify publicly as Jews, believing that the practice of liberal Judaism created “alternatives to assimilation,” in the words of one historian of the American Reform movement.16

Wolf’s work was shaped by the late-nineteenth-century Reform movement as well as by personal and familial circumstances. Her writing career began at an early age, coinciding with her father’s sudden death, most likely from a heart attack as he returned from a business trip in 1878.17 The death of a father comes to play a symbolic role in many of her works, and, especially in the Jewish-themed texts, it represents a break with tradition and serves as a catalyst for the children to marry and form families of their own. Wolf’s own illness and disability further enabled her to become a woman of letters. Due to a bout with polio, she spent most of her life in a wheelchair; her weak health freed her from domestic duties and prevented her from following the conventional route for women of her social echelon. From this vantage point, however, she became a careful observer of her seven sisters’ courtships and marriages, which provided her with material for her domestic tales. Constance Herriott, the heroine of her 1894 novel, A Prodigal in Love, for example, devotes her life to ensuring the happiness and well-being of her five younger sisters following the death of their parents. True to her name, Constance goes so far as to sacrifice her own love for the writer Hall Kenyon, who has also claimed the heart of the second eldest sister, Eleanor. In a reversal of Jane Austen’s well-known novel of sisterhood, Sense and Sensibility (1811), Wolf’s Eleanor is “sensibility” to Constance’s “sense,” and the resulting marriage between Eleanor and Kenyon leads to heartbreak and estrangement before resolving in love and understanding.

Wolf favored realistic depictions of love and marriage, often incorporating references to fairy tales to juxtapose her realism with the earlier romantic tradition of idealized love. Her short story “One-Eye, Two-Eye, [End Page 12] Three-Eye”— which, though it appeared in The American Jewess in 1896, is devoid of explicitly Jewish content—directly acknowledges and then rejects the fairy tale on which it is based to contrast the love lives of three sisters. “Fairy tales are impossible nowadays,” the story begins. “Fact is quite interesting enough at this epoch . . . Formerly we saw as through a glass darkly, now face to face.”18 As for other women writers of the era, including Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, and Edith Wharton, realism –or, seeing “face to face”—allowed Wolf to offer intertwined, if more understated, critiques of romanticized domesticity and patriarchy. Her fiction may conclude with domestic happy endings, but the bonds of matrimony, at least initially, restrict women’s intellectual and artistic inclinations and ambitions, a theme she derived from observing members of her family. For example, one of Emma’s sisters, Alice S. Wolf, a contributor of short stories to the San Francisco literary magazine the Argonaut and other periodicals, saw her career as a writer come to an end when she wed Colonel William MacDonald, by whom she had been employed as a private secretary. Alice’s one novel, A House of Cards (1896), published two years before her wedding, dealt with a woman who reluctantly chose marriage over a career as a teacher.19 It was left to Emma, the unmarried sister, to document stories of women who sought “fulfillment”—as her last novel, published in 1916, was titled—in intellectual activities rather than solely in love and marriage.

The duties of marriage conflict with women’s intellectual and professional aspirations in the writings of the Wolf sisters, but Emma’s first novel, Other Things Being Equal, centered instead on a different obstacle to marriage: religious differences. The heroine, Ruth Levice, the beloved only child of prosperous French-Jewish immigrants who mix freely with their Christian neighbors, finds love and intellectual companionship with a Unitarian, Dr. Herbert Kemp. Ruth’s father, however, objects to their marriage on the grounds of the “great difference between the Jewish race and traditions, and the Christian,” fearing that his daughter, and her future children, would face a lifetime of social ostracism from both [End Page 13] religious communities.20 By the end of the novel, however, Mr. Levice is persuaded by the force of their love to overturn his objections. Stricken ill while doing business on the East Coast, he returns home to San Francisco, where his daughter and Dr. Kemp grant him his deathbed wish, marrying that very day so that he can bless their new life together and publicly sanction their union as “a grave experiment” in social equality.21

As an alternative to ghetto fiction that dominates studies of early American Jewish literature, Other Things Being Equal challenges several critical paradigms, not the least of which involves the intermarriage theme. In a 1958 survey tracing the American-Jewish novel from its inception in the nineteenth century through the 1920s writings of Ben Hecht and Ludwig Lewisohn, Leslie Fiedler noted the prevalence of the “erotic-assimilationist” theme in which the male protagonist’s love affairs take on symbolic meaning in relation to his social ascent.22 According to Frederic Cople Jaher, the eroticization of assimilation reached its apotheosis in post-World War II fiction and was closely associated with the trope of the self-hating Jew; in novels by writers such as Philip Roth, the male protagonist’s lust for a non-Jewish woman, or shiksa, was equated with a desire to rid himself of Jewish difference and to elevate his status in order to be accepted by the gentile majority. “Gentile women represent tickets of entry into middle- and upper-class WASP society; they are trophies of success,” states Jaher, juxtaposing the fantasy of “the genteel, elegant, Anglo-American goddess” with the stereotype of the unattractive, unrefined, and often vulgar “Jewess.”23

While Fiedler and Jaher exclusively draw their evidence from interfaith relationships in fiction by men, scholars who also include women writers in their analysis have noted a similar dynamic, albeit one that reverses gender roles, portraying unions between Jewish women and the shaygets, or gentile man. Indeed, it is nowhere clearer than in the fiction of Anzia Yezierska that taking a gentile lover or husband is the most direct escape route from the ghetto. Sonya Vrunsky, the protagonist of Yezierska’s 1923 novel, Salome of the Tenements, for example, orchestrates an elaborate performance, making herself look “Fifth-Avenue born,” in order to win the heart of the millionaire-philanthropist John Manning and flee [End Page 14] her working-class, immigrant roots.24 But if Sonya and Manning are to provide the prototype, then interfaith, interclass unions are cross-cultural experiments doomed to failure. Sonya comes to realize that “just as fire and water cannot fuse, neither could her Russian Jewish soul fuse with the stolid, the unimaginative, the invulnerable thickness of [her] New England puritan” husband.25 She divorces Manning, and by the end of the novel, finds compatibility, if not love, with a Jewish husband. As Adam Sol observes, intermarriage in early Jewish American fiction represents a “problematic solution to the temptations of assimilation,” indicating that a fully Americanized identity is unattainable—and undesirable—for Jewish immigrants.26 In favoring endogamy over exogamy, the works thus far discussed by critics conform to ingrained expectations about ethnic literature—namely, that ethnic literature would detail the process of Americanization, exploring the allure of, and obstacles to, assimilation while ultimately expressing regret about the loss of cultural heritage.27

Wolf’s novel may explore the obstacles to a union between individuals of different faiths, but it ultimately depicts intermarriage as an attainable ideal rather than a “problematic solution.” Although Other Things Being Equal offers little insight into the couple’s married life together, concluding as it does with the solemnity of Ruth’s mourning for her father, it promises a future of matrimonial happiness and harmony. “We are everything to each other,” Kemp tells Ruth adoringly in the novel’s final pages. “We are—all the world to each other. We are—the past, present, and future to each other—we are husband and wife.”28 Importantly, Ruth’s attraction to Kemp does not reflect a desire to eradicate Jewish difference in order to achieve acceptance by mainstream society. Instead, as the title, Other Things Being Equal, suggests, intermarriage functions as a public affirmation of a social equality that has mostly been achieved. The “erotic-assimilationist” novel depends upon the attraction of opposites; difference itself is eroticized. Cultured, refined, and well-mannered, products of the same affluent social milieu, Ruth and Kemp are drawn to each other due more to their similarities than [End Page 15] to their differences. Ruth’s father explains this in describing how he overcame his opposition to the couple’s marriage:

I grasped your two images before me and drew parallels: Socially—in my opinion society is a mutual drawing together of resemblances—socially, each was as fair as the other. Mentally, the woman was of the same stratum as the man. Physically, both were perfect types of pure, healthy blood. Morally, both were irreproachable. Religiously, both held a broad, abiding love for man and God. I stood convicted. I was in the position of a blind reactionary who, with a beautiful picture before him, fastens his critical, condemning gaze upon a rusting nail in the wall behind—a nail even now loosened, and which, some day, please God, shall fall.29

Ruth’s father reverses his initial judgment, replacing it with a “beautiful picture” of equality that derives foremost from commonalities in social environment. When set in the ghetto, narratives of interethnic romance necessitate spatial crossings. Inhabiting distinct social environs, the lovers must transcend the walls of the ghetto, moving, for instance, between uptown and downtown; thus, as exemplified by Yezierska’s Salome of the Tenements, ethno-religious difference becomes inextricable from class difference. In Other Things Being Equal, in contrast, socio-economic class brings the lovers together; they reside in the same middle-class neighborhood, fortuitously discovering early on that they live only “a few blocks” apart from one another.30

While social class easily justifies the rightness of the couple’s mutual attraction, Mr. Levice’s speech must work to overwrite other differences that interfere in the image of equality—differences of religion, race, and even gender. Rather than identifying along conventional gender lines with her mother, a “nervous and hysterical” woman whose primary interests are shopping and society affairs, Ruth is closer in temperament to her studious father, an “intellectual, self-made man” who enjoys his hard-earned prosperity by indulging in books.31 Mr. Levice takes great pride in his daughter’s intellect, believing that her cerebral qualities—rather than traditionally domestic and feminine traits—make her a fitting mate for Kemp. Religious differences, too, are rendered insignificant, as Mr. Levice emphasizes their shared monotheistic, Judeo-Christian values. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the speech, however, is the father’s assertion that Ruth and Kemp were “both perfect types of pure, healthy blood,” affirming the description of each “as fair as the other” and seemingly rejecting his earlier concern about insurmountable racial differences. [End Page 16]

Even as they evoke a popular scientific belief in eugenics, which categorized “types” according to biological ancestry in the service of improving the racial quality of future generations, Mr. Levice’s words speak to the mutability of racial categories and discourse. As Eric Goldstein has argued, in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, American Jews used shifting terms of language as they “negotiated their place in a complex racial world.”32 In the 1890s, most American Jews viewed their racial distinctiveness in positive terms; racial language and imagery—especially that of blood— were means of preserving identity in the diaspora. It is significant then that Mr. Levice does not claim that Ruth and Kemp are “of one blood.” His language allows for Jewish racial distinction, while asserting that his family’s biological make-up is equally “pure” and “healthy.” As Goldstein has shown, intermarriage was an especially fraught site in turn-of-the-twentieth-century America because “a definition of Jewishness grounded in blood and ancestry often set the limit of social interactions with non-Jews at marriage.”33 Mr. Levice gets around such limitations by arguing that intolerance toward intermixing was a product of outmoded thought. While dramas like The Melting Pot would later sanction intermarriage, at times unwittingly fostering the belief that “racial amalgamation was a prerequisite to becoming true Americans,”34 Wolf’s novel leaves open the question of “amalgamation,” or race-mixing, by sidestepping further discussion of Ruth and Kemp’s offspring, children whom Mr. Levice will not live to see. The novel concludes with only the vaguest of glances forward: “And so the future took them.”35 As uncertain as the ending is, by virtue of having a Jewish female protagonist, Wolf’s novel allows for a future that may include Jewish children, a possibility foreclosed by texts, like The Melting Pot, that depict unions between Jewish men and Christian women.

Mr. Levice’s change of heart may depend upon his ability to rationalize away differences between Christians and Jews, but Wolf’s representation [End Page 17] of intermarriage does not adhere to the conventional paradigms of assimilationist literature, in which the desire for sameness is aligned with Jewish shame and self-hatred. Ruth’s love for Kemp also leads to soul-searching on the daughter’s part, as she comes to a deeper understanding of herself as a Jewish woman. Just as Ruth’s father reverses his “reactionary” position against intermarriage for a more modern vision of social equality, Ruth comes closer to seeing her father’s supposedly old-fashioned point of view. Though she earlier questioned her father’s objections to her marriage, reminding him that he “taught [her] to look upon my Christian friends as upon my Jewish,” she later concedes that his claims of Jewish difference were not completely unfounded.36 The prospect of marriage to a Christian provides an occasion for Wolf’s heroine to express pride in the ethno-religious identity that sets her apart. Horrified, for example, by her father’s suggestion that her marriage would be perceived by others as a renunciation of Judaism, Ruth declares, “I am a Jewess, and will die one.”37 Her father’s argument against intermarriage also allows Ruth, seemingly for the first time in her life, to entertain the possibility that she herself could be subjected to prejudice based on imagined notions of racial difference and inferiority. “Involuntarily, the Christian mind always rears its ghettoes,” she tells Kemp in response to his insistence that there is no distinction between Christian and Jew. “And in that mental ghetto, I want you to know, I belong—and proudly.”38 In “erotic-assimilationist” novels, a union with a gentile is usually understood as an act of distancing one’s self from one’s Jewishness; only through the repudiation of such a union could the protagonist reclaim his or her Jewish self. In Other Things Being Equal, however, Ruth comes to embrace her Jewish identity through her union with a Christian man, acknowledging its distinctiveness in a way that she did not when her loyalty to her faith and people went unchallenged.

In the familiar immigrant tale of the era, the “foreign-looking, strange-speaking Hebrew of the Ghetto” provided the local color; he was a part of his surroundings, and his surroundings were a part of him.39 In contrast to the physical and material barriers present in “erotic-assimilationist” novels, the Jewish “ghetto” in Wolf’s fiction is no more than a mental construct, a means of articulating elusive differences—differences that become a source of pride rather than anxiety. Spatial “ghettos” do exist in Wolf’s old San Francisco, but, significantly, they do not contain Jews. Observe, for instance, Wolf’s description of Ruth’s excursion into the [End Page 18] city’s “foreign and picturesque” quarters, where, early in the novel, she is sent by Kemp on errands of good will: “So immersed was she in this call of her deeper being, she walked on, . . . [past] the old gray Greek church with its dome and minarets, the long flights of wooden steps leading up to the tinder-box homes with their spindly balconies, the Italian fishermen and bambinos, the Negros and gayly-garbed Negresses, the blue-smocked Chinese with their queues, trotting along imperturbably— the whole motley bouquet of the Latin quarter.” Though she remains “unconscious of her . . . surroundings,”40 this array of racial and ethnic types sharply contrasts with Ruth’s gentility and reminds the reader of the heroine’s lack of “foreignness.” The portrayal of Ruth as charitable do-gooder, soul mate to the similarly selfless Dr. Kemp, further emphasizes the protagonist’s affinity with the Christian majority, especially through her adherence to the doctrine of brotherly love, but without compelling her to sacrifice her religion or her family.

It is notable, however, that the novel promotes such “resemblances” between Jews and their Christian brethren at the expense of cross-racial and interethnic solidarity. Other Things Being Equal may allow for a successful interreligious union, and it effectively upends Jewish stereotypes, but it does so by reinforcing exotic stereotypes, and the hierarchical “ghettoization,” of other racial and ethnic groups. The contrast of Ruth with blacks and Chinese, as well as with newer European immigrants, reverberates with Mr. Levice’s characterization of his daughter as pure-blooded, a description that deems her more fit to reproduce with Anglo-Saxons. The episode lends support for Goldstein’s claim that Jews actively negotiated their whiteness in relation to other racial minorities, and the multiethnic Western setting of Wolf’s novel demonstrates that the status of racial otherness was not consigned to the black population alone, but included immigrant groups. Positioning its Jewish characters outside—and as outsiders to—the ghetto, Other Things Being Equal anticipated Annie Nathan Meyer’s call for fiction that describes Jews “seriously . . . [by] hold[ing] up . . . resemblances rather than . . . differences.” It did so, however, by using, rather than debunking, the logic of race and blood as grounds for equality.

Wolf’s imaginative resolutions to the American quandary of difference versus equality did not satisfy all of her readers. Some took issue with the novel’s representation of mixed marriage. In an 1896 speech before the New York Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), for instance, Annie Josephine Levi, a fellow writer who became best known for her book of devotional literature, Meditations of the [End Page 19] Heart: A Book of Private Devotion for Old and Young (1900), acknowledged her respect for Wolf’s “charmingly told story,” but warned that Wolf’s “unsatisfactory solution of the intermarriage problem, wherein religious sympathy is a minor consideration,” might “sow dangerous seeds in the minds of youth.”41 Despite, or perhaps because of, these concerns, Wolf’s intermarriage novel remained a popular success, read and discussed, for example, by Jewish women’s clubs around the nation.42 For many readers, the novel “untangled a knotty problem,” as the San Francisco Chronicle reported in a story on Wolf, adding that although the author had received many thank you notes accompanied by wedding announcements, she “has no idea how many marriages her story is responsible for.”43 While the novel has largely escaped attention by critics today, it is worth consideration not only for the way it influenced historical attitudes toward interfaith marriage, but also for the way its “unsatisfactory resolution of the intermarriage problem” productively unsettles established paradigms of Jewish American and ethnic literature.

The Marriage Plot and the Melting Pot: Heirs of Yesterday

Contrary to the received wisdom that exogamy necessarily attenuates Jewish identity, the intermarriage plot in Other Things Being Equal sets in motion a journey that brings Wolf’s protagonist closer to her Jewishness, but one that at the same time compels a redefinition of what it means to be Jewish and American. Wolf’s next two novels, A Prodigal in Love (1894) and The Joy of Life (1896), similarly rely on the conventions of the marriage plot, even as they eliminate Jewish characters and themes. It would be a mistake, however, to read these two works as evidence of the author’s turning away from her own Jewishness.44 [End Page 20] On both the local and national levels, Wolf was a part of an emergent Jewish literary scene that coincided with the rise of the woman’s club movement in the 1890s. As a member of the Philomath Club, which was described by founder Bettie Lowenberg as “the first club composed of Jewish women with a regularly adopted constitution in the world,” Wolf met to discuss literary and social issues with other Jewish women in San Francisco.45 In the club’s luxurious meeting space at the Palace Hotel, she attended lectures on German and English literature by Stanford University professors and delivered papers herself.46 She published fiction and poetry in the American Jewess, a journal founded in 1895 by editor Rosa Sonneschein to serve as an unofficial promotional organ for the recently formed NCJW. She also reviewed works of ghetto fiction by Israel Zangwill and Martha Wolfenstein in the Jewish press. When Wolf returned to explicitly Jewish subject matter with her 1900 novel, Heirs of Yesterday, she once again mobilized a marriage plot as a means of exploring the shifting meanings of Jewishness in predominantly Christian America. Read in the context of Wolf’s relationship with Zangwill, Heirs of Yesterday proves an important addition to transnational American literary history, demonstrating that turn-of-the-twentieth-century Anglophone Jewish fiction need not rehearse the familiar ghetto tropes in order to contribute to our understanding of ethnic American literature and history.

In 1896, Wolf sent Zangwill a copy of The Joy of Life, initiating a correspondence between the two writers that lasted for at least four years.47 The fact that Wolf reached out to a fellow Jewish writer, the best-known in the Anglo-Jewish world, indicates that she saw herself and her writing as part of a Jewish literary tradition. With Children of the Ghetto: A Study of a Peculiar People (1892), published in the same year as Other Things Being Equal, Zangwill had risen to fame on both sides of the Atlantic; his career as an author also gave him a platform for his political activism, which ranged from Zionism to women’s suffrage.48 Zangwill had not yet read Wolf’s writing (her work had not been published in Britain), but he knew of her “vaguely—through [her] previous [End Page 21] book on the intermarriage problem.” Though the novel she sent him was absent of Jewish content, his letters indicate that he identified with her as a fellow Jewish writer. Thanking Wolf for the letter and book, which “enabled [him] to become aware of surely the most promising Jewish writer of the younger generation,” Zangwill anoints her “the best product of American Judaism since Emma Lazarus.”49 Publically, Zangwill also praised The Joy of Life, reviewing it in the Jewish Chronicle with the premise of introducing a “new” Jewish American novelist to readers on his side of the Atlantic.50 In a brief item in Cosmopolitan, Zangwill described The Joy of Life as “remarkably virile, incisive and thoughtful, but full of the promise of still finer things to come.”51

As for what those “finer things” might be, Zangwill had a specific idea in mind. Although he had not yet read Other Things Being Equal, he encouraged Wolf to return to Jewish themes. “Why not write the Jewish story which is stirring in your subconscious?” he asked. Recommending the Jewish Publication Society as an American publisher as long as the imprimatur would not “cramp” her, he urged honesty: “You must say exactly what you think about Jews & Judaism.”52 Zangwill also offered to help Wolf find a British publisher for her previous work, but when he did read the copy of Other Things Being Equal she sent for this purpose, he came away less impressed, admitting privately to her that he “did not like [her] Jewish work as well [her] American.” Though he credited his preference to the fact that The Joy of Life was the more “mature work,” Zangwill’s “tempered” praise for Other Things Being Equal can also be understood as a critique of what he saw as Wolf’s failure to adhere to the tenets of realism. Suggesting that her characters were “vague idealisation[s]” rather than “types studied from . . . life,” Zangwill revealed his discomfort with the way her work defied expectations for fin-de-siècle Anglo-Jewish fiction—namely, the conventions of ghetto realism that his own stories had helped to establish.53 Contrary to Zangwill’s critique, Wolf’s characters were, in fact, drawn from the life she knew as a Jewish woman living in San Francisco. In this sense, Wolf’s writing provided Zangwill with both an early awareness of the [End Page 22] range of Jewish life in America and an entrée into the intricacies of the American “melting pot,” which he would later come to experience firsthand when visiting the United States.

In his early assessment of Wolf’s literary career, Zangwill divided her work into separate categories—“Jewish” or “American”—but, as her characterizations suggest, it is unclear that Wolf herself would have made so rigid a distinction. The book that she produced next, Heirs of Yesterday, took aim at exactly such divisive thinking. While she appeared to have followed Zangwill’s advice, turning once again to American Jewish life for her material with Heirs, she also framed her new novel as a response to the ghetto tradition, with its tendency to play up Jewish “peculiarity,” or difference. Given the direction in which Zangwill’s own work matured, cresting in 1908 with his melodramatic treatment of intermarriage and American Jewish life in The Melting Pot, the relationship between Zangwill and Wolf seems to be more than a unidirectional case of “transatlantic mentorship,” as Barbara Cantalupo has categorized it. Instead, the two writers had a reciprocal influence on the development of each other’s work—and, in turn, on one of the most resonant concepts in American ethnic studies.

In his paradigm-defining study, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture (1986), Werner Sollors demonstrates how effectively Zangwill’s The Melting Pot shaped sociological narratives about ethnicity, even those, like Horace Kallen’s theory of cultural pluralism, that supposedly opposed Zangwill’s assimilationist principles.54 As Sollors argues, the concept of the “melting pot,” as popularized in Zangwill’s play, contributed to an understanding of American identity that privileged “consent” over “descent,” one in which immigrants, regardless of their identities at birth, could transform themselves into Americans by choosing to embrace national ideals. Unlike most of Zangwill’s stories about Jewish life in London, which take place in the East End ghetto, The Melting Pot is primarily set in a “non-Jewish borough of New York,” home to the Quixanos, a family of Russian Jewish immigrants whose residence is “a curious blend of shabbiness, Americanism, Jewishness, and music.”55 The play’s narrative conflict is the star-crossed love affair between Christian settlement worker Vera Revendal, herself a Russian immigrant, and Jewish composer David Quixano, whose idealistic rhetoric provides the central voice and motif of the play. In the play’s [End Page 23] most-quoted speech, David rhapsodizes about his adopted nation, the inspiration for his musical composition:

America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them at Ellis Island, here you stand in your fifty groups, with your fifty languages and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries. But you won’t be long like that, brothers, for these are the fires of God you’ve come to—these are the fires of God. A fig for your feuds and vendettas! Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians—into the Crucible with you all! God is making the American.56

The play’s marriage plot puts David’s idealism to the test, especially his belief that national “feuds and vendettas” could be left behind in the Old World. The conflict over the couple’s religious differences is heightened by the discovery that state-sponsored antisemitism had violently intertwined their Russian pasts: Vera’s father, Baron Revendal, was responsible for the murder of David’s parents in the Kishinev pogrom of 1903. In the play’s last act, which takes place at the July 4th premiere of the immigrant composer’s American symphony, David and Vera—“Jew and Gentile”—overcome their differences and break free of the familial histories that threaten to drive them apart. Their union becomes the embodiment of the melting pot ideal. The play concludes with a dramatic image of their embrace as they stand upon the roof of the settlement house against the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty, as “the sound of voices and instruments joining in ‘My Country, ’tis of Thee’” rises from below. Fulfilling David’s prophecy for the American “Crucible,” interfaith love brings about amalgamation, the “melt[ing]” and “fus[ing]” of “all nations and races” to form a new American identity.57 In Sollors’s words, the play’s intermarriage plot “sacralizes loving consent as the abolition of prejudices of descent.”58

Sollors’s perceptive reading of the play accounts for antecedents to Zangwill’s melting pot metaphor. He does not, however, fully consider sources for Zangwill’s equally important use of a marriage plot. Although Zangwill reverses the gender positions of his interfaith couple and sets his play in New York, his symbolic use of intermarriage is indebted to Wolf’s Other Things Being Equal. Like Kemp and Ruth, David and Vera do not reject their religious backgrounds. To her father’s accusation that she has “become a Jewess,” Vera replies, “No more than David has [End Page 24] become a Christian. We were already at one.”59 Zangwill’s prophesy of universal religion and racial amalgamation takes Wolf’s vision of ethno-religious equality a step further. Instead of sidestepping the question of the next generation, as Wolf does, the play’s ending paves the way for the coming of the future American, the “unborn millions, fated to fill this giant continent.” With its evocations of manifest destiny, David’s final “benediction” reaches westward, beyond the environs of New York to the rest of the nation.60 For Zangwill, marriage—the bringing together of individuals to form “one”provides a model of a consensual, rather than a consanguineal, relationship. By choosing to wed oneself to another, or by choosing to embrace the ideals of a new nation, the individual’s identity is reformed, as he or she becomes part of a greater union.

Zangwill’s use of marriage as a metaphor for consensual transformation also owes a debt to Heirs of Yesterday. “I have read ‘Heirs of Yesterday’ with much pleasure,” Zangwill wrote to Wolf in December 1900, “not only on account of its art but of its information. The exact place of the Jew in the ‘Republic of human brotherhood’ is a point that interests me exceedingly. Apparently it is just above the coloured folk.” With Heirs of Yesterday, Zangwill believed that Wolf was “sinking [her] shaft much deeper than” in her previous Jewish-themed novel.61 Unlike the religious differences that separate Ruth and Kemp, the couple at the center of Heirs of Yesterday’s marriage plot are both Jewish according to the laws of descent, but they differ in terms of consent. The notion that endogamy and descent do not necessarily provide the groundwork for a harmonious union, and can even be divisive in a culture that prides itself on freedom of choice, is at the heart of Heirs of Yesterday. Set in the hills of Pacific Heights, where “the tide of Jewish social culture runs its mimic parallel alongside” the rest of San Francisco society, the book uses a love story to engage with questions of difference and equality central to the project of American democracy.62

By the time Wolf published Heirs of Yesterday, ghetto fiction had firmly secured its niche in Anglo-Jewish letters. Wolf thus explicitly positions Heirs of Yesterday as a response to ghetto literature, distancing her writing from the trope of the slum-dwelling immigrant Jew while simultaneously acknowledging Zangwill, one of the originators of the genre. The novel’s epigraph comes from “A Child of the Ghetto,” the short story that introduces Zangwill’s Dreamers of the Ghetto (1898), a [End Page 25] book that Wolf had reviewed for the American Jewess: “For something larger had come into his life, a sense of a vaster universe without, and its spaciousness and strangeness filled his soul with a nameless trouble and a vague unrest. He was no longer a child of the Ghetto.”63 Transposed from the conclusion of Zangwill’s late-nineteenth-century tale of a Venetian youth to the opening of Wolf’s novel, published at the dawn of a new century, these lines characterize Philip May, the male protagonist of Heirs of Yesterday. A young physician who had trained in the East, Philip returns to the San Francisco home of his Yiddish-speaking father, Joseph May, a widowed merchant, and announces his intention to dissociate from the Jewish community and live his life as a gentile. Philip rejects his Jewishness for practical reasons—“I have discovered that to be a Jew, turn wheresoever you will, is to be socially handicapped for life”—as well as ideological ones: “I consider Judaism a dead letter, a monument to the past.” Summarizing “a noted English litterateur, himself a Jew,” presumably Zangwill, Philip describes the plight of Jews who have achieved economic and professional success: “hung between the Ghetto it has outlived and the Christian society it can neither live with nor without,” the Jewish middle class is adrift, isolated by the “racial prejudices” that persist in the gentile mind.64 As in Other Things Being Equal, the ghetto is not a spatial entity that segregates Jews, but a mental construct, a metonym for ethno-religious difference and a vestige of the Old World that inhibits movement into modernity.

Heirs of Yesterday is notable for using the literary trope of “passing,” a genre most often associated with African American literature, in which fair-skinned, mixed-race protagonists cross the color line to take on a white identity. Yet Fiedler and other critics have understood the genesis of Jewish American literature in terms of assimilation, not passing. The ghetto fiction of Cahan and Yezierska, for instance, depicts assimilation as a gradual process in which ties to the past and to religion are shed slowly as characters become more American. Wolf, in contrast, narrates the experiences of middle-class Jews who have achieved economic stability and, with that, a degree of social equality. In African American passing narratives, mixed-race characters’ performances of whiteness work to expose the social construction of racial differences (via the one-drop rule, for example). Wolf similarly uses the passing narrative to challenge notions of Jewish racial difference. Yet, it is equally important that Heirs of Yesterday—like many of the black passing narratives that [End Page 26] have entered the ethnic literary canon—rejects passing as a means of attaining equality. The novel instead redefines Jewishness in terms that prioritize consent over descent, supplanting the passing narrative with a marriage plot. This redefinition of Jewish identity is enabled by two late-nineteenth-century historical developments: the rise of Reform Judaism, which sought alternatives to secularization by adapting religious practice to an American context, and American military interventionism abroad, which provided opportunities for Jews to display their allegiance to the United States. Over the course of Wolf’s novel, these historical forces work in concert to render the strategy of passing unnecessary.

Philip May’s initial decision to pass as gentile does not take place in San Francisco, where Jews historically experienced less antisemitism than in other parts of the country. Instead, Philip came to pass as gentile after experiencing social isolation while at school in Boston. He explains his reasoning in a long speech to his father:

I was an American—with a difference. I hated the difference. I wanted to be successful—successful socially as well as professionally. I resolved to override every obstacle to obtain that perfect success.

The opening came at Harvard. Thanks to you I have been endowed with a name which tells no tales, thanks to my mother my features are equally silent. I was thrown in with a crowd of young Bostonians . . . who, through the fact that I had been seen in the Unitarian church, took me for one of their own persuasion. It was a suggested evasion of an unfit shackle. There was no preconceived deception. I simply filled the bill.65

Philip does not wholly renounce his parentage, but instead cherry-picks aspects of his familial lineage—his father’s name, his mother’s features— that make him similar to rather than different from those around him. What is further notable here is the effortlessness of Philip’s passing. He does not need to work to become American; he does not need to achieve what Cahan calls, in The Rise of David Levinsky, a “convincing personation” or to premeditate acts of deception and illusion, as Sonya Vrunsky does in Salome of the Tenements.66 Instead, he “simply filled the bill.” In these respects, Heirs of Yesterday may answer Meyer’s call for fiction that emphasizes resemblances to rather than differences from the Christian majority. However, it is also important that Heirs of Yesterday does not erase Jewish particularity. Instead, the Jewish characters ultimately choose to identify as Jewish, even when class status and other factors deem it unnecessary; they reclaim Jewish difference as a source of pride [End Page 27] and a sign of American individualism. By the end of Heirs of Yesterday, Philip May appears to be converted to the view that his decision and desire to pass were ill-founded, and this conversion takes place through a marriage plot—this time between individuals born to the same faith.

Upon his return to San Francisco from the East, Philip falls in love with a Jewish woman, Jean Willard. Jean lives next door to his father with her uncle, Daniel Willard, who is not only Joseph May’s neighbor but also his closest friend. A talented pianist, Jean is a sought-after companion in her circle of young intellectuals and artists. Jean’s religion, we are told, “had always lain lightly upon her” and she “belonged to none and to all of the finely demarcated circles which go to make Jewish society.”67 Such descriptions suggest that Jean’s Jewishness is more external than internal, with an elasticity that neither confines nor fully defines her. Jean is depicted as a fervid individualist who openly, if quietly, speaks her mind and resists being hemmed in by others. Most tellingly, early in the novel, she refuses to pose for the antisemitic painter Stephen Forrest, who later, and without her consent, transforms his memory of her image into his portrait of “The Jewess.” Though Forrest, in his desire for the beautiful pianist, assures Jean that her “sex unsects” her,68 she correctly intuits that modeling for him would fix her as a distinct “type”; she is bent instead on using her own art as a means of self-definition. As an orphan, Jean is seemingly released of the filial obligations that bind Philip, but she chooses nonetheless to devote herself to her father’s brother, Daniel Willard, and his closest friend, Joseph May. Calling both of them “Uncle,” she defines kinship by bonds of love and affection above blood. As with Philip, Jean’s name and features “tell no tales.” Despite her belief in “the development of individuality at any cost,” however, Jean—like Ruth in Other Things Being Equal—holds fast to her Jewishness, and Jean and Philip are kept apart by their conflicting attitudes toward their Jewish identities.69 Accusing Philip of violating the Fifth Commandment, Jean views her would-be lover as responsible for the death of Philip’s father, her adopted “uncle.” Joseph May dies heartbroken at the idea that his son, in rejecting Judaism in order to become “a self-made man,” had also rejected his father.70

Orphaned, like Jean, and disinherited by his father, who revises his will upon hearing of his son’s intent to pass as gentile in order to promote his career and gain membership in the city’s best social club, Philip [End Page 28] seems free of the “unfit shackles” that threatened to confine him. But both his attraction to Jean and the death of his father propel Philip into a re-encounter with Judaism and an opportunity to find new meaning in the religion he once wrote off as “a monument to the past.” It is Jean who begins Philip’s course of enlightenment, introducing him to the versatile doctrine of Reform Judaism when he finds himself a reluctant guest at the Willards’ Passover seder. In a conversation that positions Jean as Philip’s intellectual equal, if not superior, she shares with him her religious philosophy: that Judaism is not an ancient practice, but an evolving one—“a becoming” is how she describes it, appropriating Philip’s own words. Like the America of the frontier myth, Jewish thought, in Jean’s view, is “singularly free, unhampered, broad, open to the light of every day”—a far cry from Philip’s association of his abandoned religion with the cramped confinement of the ghetto.71 Jean’s lessons are reiterated by her uncle, Daniel, who accompanies Philip to temple for Friday night services during his father’s shiva. There, Philip experiences Judaism “robbed of provincialisms and anachronisms.” As Daniel explains to the man who aspires to become his nephew-in-law, “the Talmudic idea—was that the Law was never to be a sealed matter—that it was always to remain open to the interpretation of the search-light of progress.”72 Like intermarriage in Other Things Being Equal, Reform Judaism is depicted as an open “experiment,” with the potential to forge a reconciliation between religious belief and modernity.

Philip may maintain some of his skepticism, but, by the end of the novel, he comes to accept, if not Judaism, then love as his religion. “You have become my religion,” he tells Jean in an effort to win her back. “If you are Jewish, must I not too be a Jew?”73 Though Jewish according to the logic of matrilineal descent, Philip proves that law “open to interpretation” and reinvents himself as a Jew by choice. He comes to see himself as Jewish not because his parents were, but rather because the woman to whom he hopes to bind himself is. If The Melting Pot “sacralizes loving consent as the abolition of prejudices of descent,”74 Heirs of Yesterday similarly uses modern love and marriage—a union of equals and of individualists, brought together by erotic choice—as a [End Page 29] vehicle for consensual identification and citizenship. Where the violent, “seething”75 alchemy of Zangwill’s melting pot threatens a loss of individuality (and thus threatens democracy, as Horace Kallen famously proposed), Wolf’s marriage metaphor, underwritten by the modern tenets of Reform Judaism, offers a resolution to the American dilemma, a way to moderate difference and to progress into the future without completely relinquishing Jewish ideals.

Although Wolf, while in the process of working on Heirs of Yesterday, wrote to Zangwill of her intent to “make [her] story end happily for love’s sake,” the published novel ends on a much more ambiguous note than initially planned.76 When Philip asks, “If you are Jewish, must I not too be a Jew?,” Jean does not answer his question with words. Instead, an image of the two of them “walk[ing] on together over the hill,” in the direction of the horizon, echoes Other Things Being Equal’s vague glance toward the future.77 This time, however, Wolf takes a more dramatic and unexpected turn. Heirs of Yesterday does not end with the neat resolution of the marriage plot. Instead, the domestic novel zooms outward to the national and world stage, as the historical backdrop of the Spanish-American War overtakes the lives of Wolf’s fictional characters.

The Spanish-American War was a pivotal moment in Jewish American history. As Jeanne Abrams’s analysis of the war’s coverage in the American Israelite demonstrates, the Reform community in particular saw its interests as Jews aligned with its interests as Americans and supported the nation’s efforts to expand its borders and spread democracy. Military service abroad and Red Cross service at home became a means for Jewish men and women to show the “compatibility of Jewish and American ideals in matters of government and humanitarian diplomacy,” to answer antisemitic attacks by illustrating “that Jews were just as brave and patriotic as any other group of Americans,” and to ensure that Jews would take part in the bounty of manifest destiny.78 As the United States’ first major international conflict after the Civil War, the war with Spain was viewed as an opportunity for Americans of all races and backgrounds to unite against a common foreign enemy, deflecting some of the stigma of ethno-racial difference away from Jewish and African Americans and on to the people of the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. [End Page 30]

In Heirs of Yesterday, the opening of Chapter XV explicitly shifts from the quiet intimacy of the marriage plot to the bold national headlines of recent history. Wolf describes the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898, the event that famously fueled the war cries of the yellow press:

But whatever Philip May, or any other, was battling with in silence of heart, was presently lost, swallowed up, in the shock which shook the whole nation to its foundations, when, on a night of February, two hundred and fifty American seamen were hurled, without herald, out of a friendly port into the port of the silent Unknown.

The calamity brought the nation as one man to its feet. . . . [T]here was no longer any individual life—it was all national.79

Wolf’s “individualist” characters are subsumed into this national narrative. In a show of patriotism, Philip enlists as an army surgeon—a historical reference to Colonel Joseph M. Heller, a surgeon who roused Jewish pride when he left a thriving medical practice to become the first man to volunteer following the United States’ declaration of war.80 Jean, meanwhile, devotes herself to the San Francisco Red Cross, preparing packages for soldiers and entertaining them with “patriotic airs.” Finding “an absorbing interest beyond self,” and giving “herself to it with fanatic zeal,” Jean’s “face began to wear the white, spiritual light of a devotee.”81

Jean’s religious devotion to the patriotic cause affirms her American identity—“whitens” her, even—but her nationalism is not free of critique. As a Jew, she remains conscious of national prejudices and the limits of American democracy at home. Attending a Red Cross meeting where “a vote of thanks was offered to all the ladies who had given assistance to the soldiers, especially for the splendid patriotism shown by the Jewish and colored ladies,” Jean takes issue with the fact that such “fine distinctions” are made under the banner of the American flag.82 Although Jean proudly identifies with her Jewishness, observes select Jewish rituals such as the Passover seder, and participates in the city’s “Jewish social culture,” she believes that difference should be a matter of individual choice rather than a “distinction” imposed by others. This reference to “Jewish and colored ladies” may well have influenced [End Page 31] Zangwill’s interpretation of the novel’s social message: the irony that even in the “Republic of human brotherhood,” Jews and “coloured folk” are at the bottom.

This brief allusion to San Francisco’s black population, who remain on the novel’s periphery, also returns us to an earlier scene in which Jews were tenuously aligned with, while being more forcefully differentiated from, the so-called “coloured folk.” At a social gathering of Jewish friends, Jean confesses her fondness for the popular “coon songs” of the day, even as she implies that such music does not meet the highest of “social standards and tastes.” The evening ends with Jean enthusiastically providing the piano accompaniment for a fellow guest who sings “song after song. . .with all the jubilant rhythm, the peculiar darky joy, which make the coon-song so unmistakably a song of color.”83 Even if born of a supposed appreciation for black culture, this performance of racial appropriation “mimics” the fads and anti-black racism of gentile society. Wolf’s language—for example, her reference to “the peculiar darky joy” of the “coon song”—positions blacks, not Jews, as the “peculiar people,” the metaphorical “children of the ghetto.” Like Ruth’s walk through the Latin quarter in Other Things Being Equal, the scene may at first align Jean with communities of color, but it ultimately serves to downplay her difference, making her and the Jewish society of which she is a part appear “whiter” in the eyes of Wolf’s readers.84

The novel’s ending also works in interesting counterpoint to the Jewish tradition of ghetto fiction. The image of Philip and Jean walking together over the hills and into the future is followed by a coda depicting the Manila expedition departing for the Philippines from San Francisco Bay with Philip on board, and Jean standing with the crowds of Pacific Heights in a patriotic farewell salute. The coda omits any reference to its central characters’ names, making them representative of gendered American “types”: the brave soldier and the patriotic Red Cross volunteer. Wolf’s characters have indeed become part of “a vaster” and more spacious “universe,” to refer back to the Zangwill epigraph, but they have done so while reclaiming and redefining, rather than creating greater distance from, their Jewish identities. Nor does a return to Jewish identity require a return to the spatial and metaphorical ghetto, [End Page 32] as it often does for Yezierska’s protagonists. Instead, Philip’s increasing acceptance of his Jewishness coincides with his participation in the project of American expansionism. The novel’s ending raises the specter of Philip’s losing his life at sea, creating narrative ambiguity about whether Philip will sacrifice himself for his country or return home a hero, sealing his union with Jean through marriage. But, compared to the beginning of the novel, there is less ambiguity about who Philip May is, or who he is “becoming”: a Jew and an American, not by birth and blood, but by love and consent.

In both Heirs of Yesterday and Other Things Being Equal, Wolf used the conventions of the marriage plot as a means of writing Jews into a national narrative. By privileging consensual allegiances above lineage by blood, her novels hold up resemblances between Jewish and gentile Americans without erasing ethno-religious difference. The significance of these novels’ Western settings should not be underestimated. As William Handley argues, “In literature of the American West, the preoccupation with marriage is especially fraught with questions about the identity of American whiteness and the meaning of western history.”85 In keeping with the individualistic spirit of Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis, Wolf’s characters seek to maintain their particularity as Jews while participating in the progress and expansion of the nation. In bringing Jewishness ever closer to “American whiteness,” however, Wolf’s texts widen the gap between Jews and the nation’s other ethno-racial minorities, as well as the colonized people of the newly expanded American empire. As a result, these texts have escaped classification as ethnic literature. Yet, as this essay has argued, the inclusion of Wolf in the American literary canon compels a reconsideration of what qualifies as “ethnic,” and offers a fuller and more textured account of Jewish literary history.

In 1916, Wolf published what was to be her last book, Fulfillment: A California Novel, in addition to a new edition of Other Things Being Equal, a novel whose treatment of intermarriage remained relevant to “a new generation,” as Wolf herself pointed out in a foreword to the reissue. Like A Prodigal in Love, The Joy of Life, and the stories she published in popular magazines such as the Smart Set, Fulfillment was absent of Jewish themes. Though it relies, as almost all her work does, on the romance of the marriage plot, its book-loving heroine, Gwen Heath, finds her greatest fulfillment in a fledgling career as a writer of children’s stories, while her sister, Deborah, remains unmarried, selflessly [End Page 33] devoting herself to Gwen’s happiness and to her settlement work. Characters such as Gwen and Deborah also bear a sisterly resemblance to Wolf’s Jewish heroines, Ruth Levice and Jean Willard, who are similarly defined as much by their artistic, intellectual, and humanitarian pursuits as by their marriage prospects. For Wolf, moving between what Zangwill categorized as “Jewish” and “American” books were another means of drawing parallels between middle-class Jews and gentile society.

Announcing the dual publication of Fulfillment and Other Things Being Equal as two books “of California life,” a description that interestingly omits any mention of the latter’s Jewish content, the Chicago Daily Tribune prophesied, “If the promise of these books is kept up, Miss Wolf will some day rank high among American writers of fiction.”86 The promise of continued literary production was not to be. According to the notice of her death that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1932, Wolf succumbed to the ill health that had plagued her throughout her life and spent her last fifteen years “virtually confined to her room.”87 But from the last decade of the nineteenth century through World War I, Wolf was a central figure in San Francisco’s Jewish literary culture, a writer whose work offers important perspectives on gender, religion, class, region, and ethno-racial identity in Progressive Era America, and whose influence extended beyond the borders of the United States, even as she herself rarely left her California home. The side-by-side publication of Other Things Being Equal and Fulfillment in 1916 was a fitting valedictory for an author who, whether or not she was writing explicitly about Jewish life, broke through misconceptions, past and present, about American Jews, Jewish fiction, and Jewish American writers. Wolf may have admired the work of contemporary ghetto writers like Zangwill for the glimpses they offered into the circumscribed lives, past and present, of a “peculiar” people, but her own writing, set in cosmopolitan San Francisco rather than in the ghetto, challenged demarcations that set Jews apart from the rest of the nation. It functioned as its own “grave experiment” in how to achieve the American ideal of equality without sacrificing Jewish identity. [End Page 34]

Lori Harrison-Kahan

Lori Harrison-Kahan is an Associate Professor of the Practice of English at Boston College and the book review editor of MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. She is the author of The White Negress: Literature, Minstrelsy, and the Black-Jewish Imaginary (2011).

This essay was completed with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. As a spring 2016 HBI scholar-in-residence, I would like to acknowledge the institute’s co-directors, Shulamit Reinharz and Sylvia Fishman, for creating an intellectual environment that fosters research on Jewish women writers. I also thank Kimberly Chabot Davis, Elif Armbruster, Josh Lambert, and two anonymous reviewers for their feedback on this essay, as well as Keren McGinity, Cathy Schlund-Vials, and Jessica Kirzane, whose comments on conference papers helped to shape my argument. Parts of this essay were previously published as “Pioneering Women Writers and the Deghettoisation of Early American Jewish Fiction” in The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction; I extend my gratitude to the volume’s editors, David Brauner and Axel Stähler, who first encouraged me to explore this material.


1. William Dean Howells, “Editor’s Easy Chair,” Harper’s Monthly Magazine (May, 1915), 959.

2. William Dean Howells, “New York Low Life in Fiction,” the New York World (July 26, 1896), 18.

3. In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Jewish American writers were often accused of contracting “Zangwillitis.” See, for example, “Jewish Writers in the New World,” Public Opinion 37 (December 14, 1904), 753–754.

4. Cited in “Chronicle and Comment,” Bookman 10 (January, 1900), 428–429.

5. Annie Nathan Meyer, “Concerning Sensitive Epiderms,” Bookman (February, 1900), 532–534. Meyer was to come back to this topic four years later when she published a letter in the New York Times Book Review in response to Edith Wharton’s depiction of a money-grubbing Jewish art dealer in her 1904 story “The Pot-Boiler.” Questioning why “the mediaeval Jew of letters” still dominates literature of the day, Meyer called for a writer who possessed “the delightful certainty of Mrs. Wharton’s art” to paint a realistic portrait, suggesting, for example, that the Jewish patron of the arts would make a suitable and more accurate subject for literature. See Annie Nathan Meyer, “Shepson in the ‘Pot-Boiler’,” New York Times (December 10, 1904), 871.

6. Meyer, “Concerning Sensitive Epiderms,” 534. Neither of Meyer’s two novels features explicitly Jewish characters, but some of her short stories do. See, for example, “Henry Brooke, Jr.” (1895) in The American Jewess, about an upper-class Jew who passes for gentile in order to be admitted to his college’s drama club, and “The Shoe Pinches Mr. Samuels” (1935) in the NAACP journal the Crisis, which features a Southern rabbi who must convince his congregation to speak out against the lynching of African Americans before Jews become the next victims of racial violence.

7. “Miss Wolf’s New Story,” The Jewish Messenger 88.24 (December 14, 1900), 1.

8. Israel Zangwill, “A New Jewish Novelist,” Jewish Chronicle 1.453 (February 5, 1897), 19; “Book Brieflets,” The American Jewess 4.5 (Feb. 1897), p. 236.

9. For notable exceptions, see Barbara Cantalupo, “Discovering Emma Wolf, San Francisco Author,” CCAR Journal: A Reform Jewish Quarterly (Winter 2004), 77–84; Cantalupo, “Emma Wolf’s Heirs of Yesterday and the Jewish Community in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Studies in American Jewish Literature 22 (2003), 145–53; and Diane Lichtenstein, Writing Their Nations: The Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Jewish Women Writers (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1992). There is also evidence that Wolf received attention during her lifetime from scholars interested in Jewish fiction. For instance, her work was included on a syllabus for a course on “Jewish Characters in Fiction” first published in 1903 and revised in 1911 by Rabbi Harry Levi in the Menorah for the Jewish Chautauqua Society.

10. See, e.g., Clare Virginia Eby, Until Choice Do Us Part: Marriage Reform in the Progressive Era (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014).

11. See Anne C. Rose, Beloved Strangers: Interfaith Families in Nineteenth Century America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001) and Keren R. McGinity, Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America (New York: New York University Press, 2009).

12. See Paul R. Spickard, Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989).

13. Most rabbis, including Isaac Mayer Wise, architect of the Reform movement, did not sanction intermarriage. Although Jacob Voorsanger, the rabbi of Wolf’s synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, was known to perform intermarriages, they were rare among the congregation’s elite Jews. See Fred Rosenbaum, Visions of Reform: Congregation Emanu-El and the Jews of San Francisco, 1849–1999 (Berkeley, CA: Judah L. Magnes, 2000).

14. Most existing surveys of prewar Jewish American fiction position ghetto narratives as an origin point. See, e.g., Jules Chametzky, “Main Currents in American Jewish Literature from the 1880’s to the 1950’s (and beyond),” Ethnic Groups 4 (1982), 85–101; Stanley Chyet, “Three Generations: An Account of American Jewish Fiction (1896–1969),” Jewish Social Studies 34.1 (1972), 31–41; Leslie Fiedler, “Genesis: The American-Jewish Novel Through the Twenties,” Midstream (Summer 1959), 21–33; David Fine, “In the Beginning: American-Jewish Fiction, 1880–1930,” in Lewis Fried (ed.), Handbook of American Jewish Literature (New York: Greenwood, 1988), 15–34; Solomon Liptzin, The Jew in American Literature (New York: Bloch, 1966); Louis Harap, Creative Awakening: The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Literature, 1900–1940s (New York: Greenwood, 1987); Louis Harap, The Image of the Jew in American Literature: From Early Republic to Mass Immigration (Philadelphia, Pa.: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1974); Sanford Marovitz, “Images of America in American-Jewish Fiction,” in Lewis Fried (ed.), Handbook of American Jewish Literature (New York: Greenwood, 1988), 315–356; Sanford Marovitz, “New York and Others: Regionalism in Early American-Jewish Literature,” Yiddish 7.4 (199), pp. 19–27; and Sanford Sternlicht, The Tenement Saga: The Lower East Side and Early Jewish American Writers (Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004). For some interesting early attempts to offer more comprehensive and diverse surveys of early Jewish American writing, see Ludwig Lewisohn, “A Panorama of a Half-Century of American Jewish Literature,” Jewish Book Annual 9 (1951), 3–10 and Florence Kiper Frank, “The Presentment of the Jew in American Fiction,” Bookman 71.3 (1930), 270–275.

15. Rosenbaum, Visions of Reform, p. 16. In addition to conducting services primarily in English, nineteenth-century Reformers instituted the use of the organ during services, loosened or eliminated dietary restrictions, and expanded the role of women in the synagogue, allowing mixed seating and counting women in a minyan.

16. Alan Silverstein, Alternatives to Assimilation: The Response of Reform Judaism to American Culture (Hanover, N.H.: Brandeis University Press, 1994). See also Fred Rosenbaum, Cosmopolitans: A Social and Cultural History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009) and Visions of Reform.

17. See Barbara Cantalupo, Introduction to Other Things Being Equal by Emma Wolf (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 2002), 9–53 and William Tornheim, “Pioneer Jews of Contra Costa,” Western States Jewish History 16.1 (1983), 3–22.

18. Emma Wolf, “One-Eye, Two-Eye, Three-Eye,” The American Jewess 2.6 (1896), 279–290.

19. Given the dates, it is unlikely that Alice’s marriage to a Christian directly inspired Other Things Being Equal, as Barbara Cantalupo claims in her introduction to Other Things Being Equal, but the existence of the novel and the fact of her sister’s marriage together suggest the timeliness of the intermarriage theme. One announcement of the marriage, for example, stated that it was “proof of [Emma Wolf’s] theory” in Other Things Being Equal “that religious scruples must give way before the impulses of the human heart.” See “MacDonald Will Marry Tomorrow,” San Francisco Chronicle (July 19, 1898), 11.

20. Emma Wolf, Other Things Being Equal (1892) (Detriot, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 2002), 184.

21. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 254.

22. Leslie Fiedler, “Genesis: The American-Jewish Novel Through the Twenties,” Midstream (Summer 1958), 21–33.

23. Frederic Cople Jaher, “The Quest for the Ultimate Shiksa,” American Quarterly 35.5 (1983), 518–542.

24. Anzia Yezierska, Salome of the Tenements (1923) (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 26.

25. Yezierska, Salome of the Tenements, 147.

26. Adam Sol, “Longings and Renunciations: Attitudes Towards Intermarriage in Early Twentieth Century Jewish American Novels,” American Jewish History 89.2 (2001), 215–230.

27. See also Ann Shapiro, “The Ultimate Shaygets and the Fiction of Anzia Yezierska,” MELUS 21.2 (1996), 79–88, and Josh Lambert, Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2014), 118–130.

28. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 266.

29. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 253–254.

30. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 70.

31. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 64, 68.

32. Eric Goldstein, The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 5.

33. Eric Goldstein, The Price of Whiteness, 20.

34. Eric Goldstein, The Price of Whiteness, 99. In his 1914 afterword to The Melting Pot, Zangwill addressed this common misinterpretation of his melting pot theory, differentiating “the process of American amalgamation” from “assimilation or simple surrender to the dominant type.” Instead, he describes the amalgamation of the melting pot in terms more often associated with theories of transnationalism and pluralism, as “an all-around give-and-take by which the final type may be enriched or impoverished.” See Zangwill, “Afterword” in Appendix E of Edna Nahshon (ed.), From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill’s Jewish Plays (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 2006), 379–382.

35. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 267.

36. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 184.

37. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 194.

38. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 238.

39. Meyer, “Concerning Sensitive Epiderms,” 533.

40. Wolf, Other Things Being Equal, 104.

41. Annie Josephine Levi, “Intermarriage,” The American Hebrew (May 22, 1896), 73.

42. On Wolf’s popularity among women’s clubs, see Anne Ruggles Gere, Intimate Practices: Literacy and Cultural Work in U.S. Women’s Clubs, 1880–1920 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997), 220–221.

43. “Writes About Home: Emma Wolf and Her Two Books,” San Francisco Chronicle (July 15, 1894), 2.

44. Wolf may have also had more difficulty publishing her Jewish-themed work. According to Jonathan Sarna, the Jewish Publication Society rejected one of Wolf’s manuscripts in 1894 because “some of the characters [are] immoral and the Rabbi hero impossible . . . whenever a traditional Jewish custom is discussed in the book, the Rabbi declares himself conscientiously unable to observe it.” Cited in Sarna, JPS: The Americanization of Jewish Culture, 1888–1988 (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 80. Sarna further notes that Wolf submitted one of her works to a JPS prize competition for “the best story relating to a Jewish subject suited to young readers” in 1897; though Wolf’s story was one of the top two submissions, the committee could not reach a consensus and decided not to award a prize. Cited in Sarna, JPS, 86. Neither of the two manuscripts Sarna mentions made their way into print, and the manuscripts are no longer extant.

45. Mrs. I. Lowenberg, “The Philomath Club,” in Western Jewry: An Account of the Achievements of Jews and Judaism in California (San Francisco: Temple Emanu-El, 1916), 57–58.

46. “The Philomath Club: Its First Open Meeting at the Palace Yesterday,” San Francisco Call (January 15, 1895), 12.

47. Barbara Cantalupo, “The Letters of Israel Zangwill to Emma Wolf: Transatlantic Mentoring in the 1890s,” Resources for American Literary Study 28 (2002), 121–138.

48. On Zangwill, see, e.g., Meri-Jane Rochelson, A Jew in the Public Arena: The Career of Israel Zangwill (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008).

49. Israel Zangwill to Emma Wolf, December 2, 1896. All of Zangwill’s letters to Wolf cited in this essay can be found in Barbara Cantalupo, “The Letters of Israel Zangwill to Emma Wolf: Transatlantic Mentoring in the 1890s,” Resources for American Literary Study 28 (2002), 121–138.

50. I. Zangwill, “A New Jewish Novelist,” 19.

51. Israel Zangwill, “In the World of Art and Letters,” Cosmopolitan 22 (1896), 690.

52. Israel Zangwill to Emma Wolf, February 5, 1897. For evidence that Wolf had already thought to try The Jewish Publication Society, see note 44.

53. Israel Zangwill to Emma Wolf, August 22, 1897.

54. See Horace Kallen, “Democracy versus the Melting-Pot,” The Nation (February 25, 1915), 217–220.

55. Israel Zangwill, The Melting Pot (1908), in Edna Nahshon (ed.), From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill’s Jewish Plays (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 2006), 271.

56. Zangwill, The Melting Pot, 288.

57. Zangwill, The Melting Pot, 363.

58. Werner Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 72.

59. Zangwill, The Melting Pot, 332.

60. Zangwill, The Melting Pot, 363.

61. Israel Zangwill to Emma Wolf, December 12, 1900.

62. Emma Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday (Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1900), 7.

63. Israel Zangwill, Dreamers of the Ghetto (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1898), 20.

64. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 35, 37, 35.

65. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 32–33.

66. Abraham Cahan, The Rise of David Levinsky (1917) (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960), 194.

67. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 63, 52.

68. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 59.

69. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 100.

70. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 128.

71. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 144.

72. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 235. On Reform Judaism, see also Jonathan Sarna, American Judaism, pages 82 to 88 and 144 to 151. The reference to Friday night services is significant, given the likelihood that Wolf’s congregation, Temple Emanu-El, was the first synagogue in America to hold services on the evening of the Sabbath. See Rosenbaum, Visions of Reform, 46.

73. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 285.

74. Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity, 72.

75. Zangwill, The Melting Pot, 363.

76. Israel Zangwill to Emma Wolf, May 14, 1898.

77. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 285.

78. Jeanne Abrams, “Remembering the Maine: The Jewish Attitude Toward the Spanish-American War as Reflected in The American Israelite,” American Jewish History 76.4 (June of 1987), 440, 444.

79. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 261.

80. Seymour “Sy” Brody, Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America (Hollywood, Fla.: Frederick Fell, 2004), 104; “Col. Joseph M. Heller Dies; Doctor in Two U.S. Wars,” the Washington Post (October 12, 1943), 8.

81. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 268, 263–264.

82. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 275.

83. Wolf, Heirs of Yesterday, 100, 109.

84. See Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998); Michael Rogin, Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996); and Lori Harrison-Kahan, The White Negress: Literature, Minstrelsy, and the Black-Jewish Imaginary (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2011).

85. William R. Handley Marriage, Violence, and the Nation in the American Literary West (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 4.

86. “Emma Wolf, Author of Fulfillment,” Chicago Daily Tribune (May 6, 1916), 7.

87. “Emma Wolf, Beloved S. F. Author, Dead,” San Francisco Chronicle (August 31, 1932), 9.

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