Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Dracula's Daughter

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Dracula's Daughter: I saw this movie again last week; it starred Gloria Holden, 1936. Here is a photo where she is made up to look like Erzebet,and in fact, Ho...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Helpful to Feminist Writing: An Annotated Bibligraphy


Part I:

Althusser, Louis. Lenin and Philosophy, 1971.

"Freud and Lacan:"

This chapter is a summary of the basic theories of Freud and Lacan. Althusser summarizes the Oedpial Phase and Mirror Stage in language that is easy to understand. Althusser points to the difference between the two by stating that Freud postulated that everything depends on Language. Lacan, on the other hand, believed that the discourse of the unconscious is structured like a language. Moreover, Althusser defines the Oedipal structure as a dramatic structure, or a "theatrical machine" imposed by the Law of Culture on each human being. (216).

For the most part, Althusser is not jargony. He does use the word "dialectic" in a definition of itself, but it is still possible to gain the meaning from the context of the sentence. (211). I like the way he writes, and I am using this book to analyze Maeve Binchy's Echoes. (This is my project for the Irish Studies Conference)

pp. 206-226. 20 pages.

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies, 1972.

"Myth Today:"

His definition of "Myth" as a type of speech is very clear and interesting. I quibble a bit with his statement that "everything can be a myth provided it is conveyed by a discourse" because he has not defined discourse here. Though, to be fair, he does define it later on. I find his statement that everything can be a myth interesting, too, and I think of how a bent coat hanger, by itself a useless household object, has come to mean back street abortions and thus is a rallying cry for the Pro Choice activists.

He disagrees at one point on p. 94 with Baudelaire's
suggestion that objects surround women that are inevitably a source of suggestiveness.

Where Barthes loses me:

While the first half of this essay is coherent and relatively free of jargon, one cannot say the same for the last half. He begins to lose me where he uses the example of the Paris Match illustration of the black soldier saluting the French Flag in one of the colonies. I understand that such a photo is a type of myth interpreting the virtues of French imperialism, but Barthes does not stop there. His discourse becomes more and more obtuse. When he begins to deconstruct the Latin phrase about the lion, I am afraid that I am completely lost. For example, I am not sure what he means on p. 137 by " . . . left-wing myth is, in essence, poverty-stricken. it does not know how to proliferate . . . " I think he is getting at what Orwell stressed in "Politics and the English Language," that political speech is often vague and meaningless when it is completely analyzed, but why not just say this instead of talking about "pseudo-physis" and masks?

pp. 93-149. 60 pages.

Cixous, Helene. "Castration or Decapitation?" Signs, Fall 1981:

To begin with, her style is clear and concise. She uses many short subject-verb sentences which I will assume are not the work of the translator alone.

In asking the question "What is woman for Man?" she expands on Gilbert and Gubar's theory that women are what men define them to be and that men keep women "in line" because it is essential for men to remain in control. Should men lose control over women, should they explore their own thoughts and feelings, he may lose control.

She gives an effective metaphorical explication of a Chinese folk tale where a woman must march to a male beat or be decapitated and of "Red Riding Hood."

The last part of the article focusses on the difference between male and female texts, e.g, male texts quest for origins while women's texts deal with "giving," to others, of herself, for a cause, etc.

pp. 41-55. 14 pages.

Cixous. "The Laugh of the Medusa." Signs, Summer 1976.

This article addresses the female body as a text. A woman must unite herself, as a body is "shot through with songs." (This last is rather violent language, one wonders if the songs are woman's, or if she has been "shot" full of them by someone else.) Women have had to write in secret, and secret writing is like masturbation. Women have been taught under male patriarchal codes to be ashamed of their writing as they are of their intense capability to feel sexually.

Cixous also proposes that there are difference between male and female texts. Indeed, if the human body is a text, it stands to reason that there are difference because male anatomy is certainly different from female anatomy. Cixous urges women to break the societal codes that discourage their self-expression, or to "break the codes that negate her." She calls for a universal woman subject to bring women to their senses.

Frankly, though, given the many kinds of differences among women of various cultures, I do not see how there can be a universal woman subject. Isn't such a proposal tantamount to taking away a woman's individuality? This point is where Cixous and I part company.

pp. 875-893. 8 pages.

Chodorow, Nancy. The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the sociology of Gender, 1978:

Chapter 7 "Object - Relations and the Female Oedipal Configuration:" She argues that parents consciously and unconsciously sexually orient their children according to their own heterosexuality. She states that "Parents are usually heterosexual and sexualize their relationship to children of either gender accordingly, employing sexually sanctioned child-rearing practices . . . " (113). I take the phrase "sexually sanctioned child-rearing practices" to imply that the practices heterosexual parents instill in their children are those which have been "encoded" in the parents by their own particular culture.

Using the work of Freud and other psychiatrists, Chodorow explores the Oedipal complex and penis envy concepts as they relate to women in an attempt to determine whether femininity is made or born in each woman. In an interesting interpretation of the penis envy hypothesis, the author postulates that the daughter wants a penis to win her mother's love because she discovers the mother prefers people who have penises like her father and brother.

Chodorow is easy to understand and makes relatively difficult concepts accessible to lay people.

pp. 111-130, 20 pages.

Chodorow, The Reproduction of Mothering.

Introduction: Her main argument is that "contemporary reproduction of mothering" is a "social structurally induced psychological" process. (7). She further argues that mothering is not a product of intentional role-training, but I think she contradicts herself a little in Chapter 7. (See previous analysis). The way I understand encoding, certain acceptable behavior is originally introduced deliberately into a culture. The culture may be so encoded that the behavior seems automatic after generations. This observation, however, does not mean the individuals of a culture cannot change and redefine what constitutes acceptable behavior.

pp. 3-11. 8 pages.

De Lauretis, Theresa. Technologies of Gender, 1987.

Chapter 1 "The Technology of Gender:" The notion of gender as a sexual difference espoused by feminist writers of the 1960's-1970's has currently become a limitation on feminist thought.

For example, such thinking, e.g., male/female sexual difference, makes it difficult to articulate differences within
women. The danger is that " . . . all women would but render . . . different embodiments of some archetypal essence of woman . . . ." (2).

Overall, this was a good discussion, but I feel she becomes "jargony" when she discusses the second limitation, eg., notice of sexual differences. Her explanation begins that the radical epistemological potential is the possibility to "conceive of the social subject" as a subject "constituted across gender . . . across languages and cultural representatives." Frankly, I don't know what she means here.

She cleans up her language by applying Foucault and saying that gender is a product of social technologies like film, social discourse, everyday life, etc. I find the use of the word "technology" interesting here. It makes me think of a machine which implies something planned out or automatic, hence a sort of slavery.

She looks-up "gender" in the dictionary to make a point, but, to me, quoting the dictionary, unless it's the OED, is rather distasteful. The definition is interesting, though, because it illustrates a theory of semiotics. The word for "gender" in Spanish is literally genero, but where in English gender can mean sex, it does not in Spanish. In Spanish, sexo is used to connote sex, gender is a different term entirely.

30 pages. pp. 1-31.

De Lauretis, Theresa. Technologies of Gender.

Chapter 5 "Gramschi Notwithstanding, or the Left Hand of History:"

This chapter consists of a textual analysis type of criticism. Gramsci founded the Italian Communist Party and was a Marxist philosopher imprisoned by Mussolini from 1926 until his death in 1937. He wrote a collection of theory while in prison called Prison Notebooks.

He married Giulia Shucht and had two sons. After he was imprisoned, she returned to her home in Moscow with her older sister, Eugenia. Still another sister, Tatiana, was Gramsci's "disciple." She followed him from to his various prisons, sent him care packages, and rescued his Prison Notebooks after he died.

Gramsci received many letters from Giulia and Tatiana but these letters were never published. As De Lauretis says "official: historiography and biography" scorned his letters. The content of them was banal and told nothing about Gramsci's writing and very little about the female authors of the letters.

De Lauretis points out, however, that it is the letters' very banality that makes them fascinating. The key is to focus on what the letters do not say. For example, why did Tatiana and not Giulia follow Gramsci from jail to jail?

The rest of the chapter describes how a female biographer went through the letters between the sisters and interviewed people who knew them. Among other things, she discovered that Eugenia influenced her sister and dominated her. Giulia's sisters prevented her from being with her husband. By doing so, they deprived Giulia of her emotional role as wife and mother.

The Gramsci example is a good illustration of how criticism can work. The biographer used women's folklore and letters between women to address the silences in the letters to Gramsci.

De Lauretis stresses that how women produce is crucial and that women's nature lies outside historical development.
If I understand her correctly, she is making an assumption that all women, regardless of culture, share some universal nature that has been marginalized. While all women share some experiences, I think this assumption is too broad. Otherwise, her style is clear and interesting.

pp. 84-93. 10 pages.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality.

Part One "We Other Victorians:" Foucault makes a valid point when he states that taking "so many precautions" to legitimate the history of sex isn't related to the same Victorian prudishness which rationalized the viewpoint that sex was for procreation. I will try to be Marxist in my approach and say that proponents of open sexual speech seek to justify their discourse by assigning it a legitimate reason.

His other valid point is that if something like sex is repressed, then merely talking about it appears to be a transgression. Sexual discourse is truly "sexy" because as he indicates, the subject of a revolution becomes a noble agent of freedom; also, his argument fits in well with that of Gilbert and Gubar in Madwoman where he discusses sex as a "monster" residing in the woman's nether regions that should be repressed. Moreover, where Foucault likens sex to writing, he is like Gilbert and Gubar when they note that the Marquis de Sade became impotent when his writing papers and pens were removed from his prison.

What I like about Foucault is that he addresses an unfamiliar subject in coherent language.
13 pages. pp. 1-13.

Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic, 1979:

Chapter 1 "The Queen's Looking Glass: Female Creativity, Male Images of Women and the metaphor of Literary Paternity:"

This is the chapter which links sexuality with writing and asks the question, "Is a pen a metaphorical penis?" (3). From here, the authors discuss the assertion that the male quality is the creative gift. They also discuss such phrases as "penetrating the imagination" and "piercing . . mind's tongue" which I find interesting because they remind one of similar phrases used to brand Renaissance women who wrote as "whores of the tongue." Also, the comment Renoir supposedly made about painting with his penis is like a critical review of Milan Kunderas I read where the writer admonished him to "quit writing with his penis."

To continue the metaphor, if a pen is a penis, with what organ to women generate texts? Part of the answer is they don't. The authors cite to quotes from male writers like Southey who very bluntly stated that women have no business writing. (12).

Furthermore, their discussion of the mirror stage is the best I have read. The illustrations vary from Mary Elizabeth Coleridge's "The Other Side of the Looking Glass" to Chaucer. They pinpoint one important reason for women beginning to write. That reason is that no one can be stilled for very long by a text or an image.

I read this book when it first came out in 1979. I find it is even better the second time through.

pp. 1-44. 44 pages.

Chapter 2 "Infection in the Sentence: The Woman Writer and the Anxiety of Authorship."

This chapter addresses the same issues that Gubar discusses in her article "The Blank Page." Women who want to write face a sort of schizophrenic anxiety because instead of being a Muse, or object for a male writer, they must be creative and active themselves. They are left with the dilemma of finding a muse or role model which, because of the effects of the mirror stage, is difficult to do. One solution is through what Adrienne Rich calls "Re-vision -- the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction . . . an act of survival." (49). In other words, we must shatter the reflection before it shatters us.

Like Cixous, the authors address old fairy tales, namely that of Snow White. This was a rather fresh interpretation taking the Queen's point of view. According to Gilbert and Gubar, the image in the Queen's mirror could represent artistic competition with men. Because of the anxieties addressed above, such competition could be annihilating. So strong has been the tradition of denigrating female artistic ability, that it has spread like an infection or "dis-ease" through women's literature.
Again, Woolf is quoted for the proposition that women who did not apologize for writing were defined as mad and monstrous. (63).

I can't say enough good things about this text. It is comprehensive, but does not preach. It is persuasive, but thoughtful in that it explores every angle of argument. Reading it also exposed me to authors of both sexes I might not have otherwise read.

pp. 45-93. 50 pages.

Irigaray, Luce. "And the one doesn't Stir without the Other." Signs, Fall 1981.

Her thesis is that woman's "mirror image" or self-image is male created so that she is left with no role model. She cannot turn to her mother because her mother has been encoded the same way. This idea is similar to Chodorow's in Reproduction of Mothering and in Woolf's ideas as expressed in her letters and in A Room of One's Own.

The style of this short article is very original because it takes the form of a monologue where a daughter who rages against the "mirror" reflection she sees is addressing the mother. In many ways she is blaming her for not "shattering the reflection." Such a theory would account for why so many women are still against feminism today. If one questions some of these women individually, one may find that they hold the views they do because their mothers espoused similar views. Or, they may be unable to explain their opinions and rely on maxims and cliches for explanation.

pp. 60-67. 7 pages.

Lacan, Jacques. Ecrits, 1977:

Chapter 1:

The Mirror Stage is a good explanation for what happens to women in a male-dominated society. According to Lacan, the mirror image is the infant's threshold to the real world. The child identifies with what she sees. If the reflection is the so-called male ideal of the frail but decorative woman, that is what women in the real world will be for the infant. Once again, Woolf is correct. A female child wanting to be artist has to shatter the reflection in the mirror.

The flaw I see with Lacan is that, if a child does become more experienced as she grows, she would see that she does not have to model herself according to the maternal or cultural ideal of what a woman should be; therefore, her reflection will change.

Still, I like Lacan's style. It is more accessible than Freud's and is almost conversational in its explanations. I have also found this book to be valuable in more than one course.

pp. 1-40. 40 pages.

Miller, Nancy K, "Emphasis Added: Plots and Plausibilities in Women's Fiction" In The New Feminist Criticism, Ed. Elaine Showalter, 1985.

This essay basically explores the possible differences between men's and women's writings. I like this essay because it addresses the issue of where unknown women writers fit into literary history. Miller favors "discovery and rediscovery" of the so-called lost women writers. She also advocates creating for them an alternative literary tradition. (342).

Up to this point, her argument is concise and follows a logical pattern. She begins to lose me, however, towards the middle of the essay where she begins to focus on Freud's interpretation of the hero of "male" fiction, but she begins to be coherent again when she focusses on what kind of hero dominates a woman's plot. Perhaps this last part captures my interest because I am a woman who writes fiction.

Furthermore, just as the Newsweek article on the culture of medicine defines medicine as an art which each culture views differently, so fiction writing is practiced differently in each culture. I also find it fascinating that Eliot attacks, almost like Hawthorne, the "silly novels by Lady Novelists." Eliot apparently separates the "silly novelists" from the "women writers," something which Hawthorne may not have done.

pp. 339-360. 21 pages.

Part II: Primary Sources:

On Barbara Pym:

Holt, Hazel. A Lot to Ask: A Life of Barbara Pym, 1992.

Chapter 14:

I chose this chapter because it discusses how Pym went about inventing her characters and the worlds in which they live. Pym's interest in sagas and in inventing characters and histories for the people and even animals around her is very like the imaginary world the Bronte children wrote about. For all that Pym knows about anthropology, I am surprised that she wasn't particularly interested in it and found it tedious. I suppose I am the same away about practicing probate law. I know it, but it is boring and I loathe doing it.

The notes for each chapter and the index are detailed and well-done. This is an excellent source book for a serious Pym student. Also, Holt seems to be objective, though she was a good friend of Pym.

pp. 175-187. 12 pages.

Pym, Barbara. Civil to Strangers, 1987.

"Finding a Voice:"

It is always fascinating to read what gave any writer her inspiration or particular style. I would not have thought that Crome Yellow would have caused the turning point in Pym's career, but apparently it did. One doesn't think of her being so interested in modern fiction after all the times critics have compared her to Jane Austen. Of course, she mentions later in the essay that she did read a lot of Austen and Trollope. (383).

She also addresses the important question of changing her "voice" after she hadn't been published in so long. As she recounts her struggles, I lived through the frustration with her. Pym reveals that it was her love of writing that kept her going, not the hope of the Best Seller's list.

Her style is conversational and witty. She appears to be very honest and open with her interviewer.

pp. 381-388. 7 pages.

Pym, Barbara. A Very Private Eye, 1984:

"The Published Novelist:"

This is another book I have read before which is more meaningful to me after a second reading. What strikes me is that Pym is constantly "reading" people as texts. Take, for example, her comment on p. 197. She says she thinks women on T.V. have never been more terrifying because of their curled heads, paint and jewelry. "No wonder men turn to other men sometimes," she says. (197). She anticipates Lederer's Fear of Women in this statement and implicitly questions the world of fashion where so many famous designers are men. For whom are these clothes designed, after all?
Also, like Woolf, she constantly notes interiors in detail, and will even anticipate what the inside of a building should look like from its exterior. Furnishings are a kind of language and speak about their owner. Moreover, she notes food like Woolf. Pym also questions why men don't think about food as much. This could be saying that women and men "read" differently, at least where edible texts are concerned.

I guess what I noticed this time that I did not before is that her letters are interspersed with her diary excerpts. I am not sure if this troubles me or not. Overall, I found this a poignant portrait of a brave and talented woman. Pym will always be a favorite of mine and I wish I could emulate her in my writing.

pp. 183-213. 30 pages.

On Virginia Woolf:

Bell, Quentin. Virginia Woolf: A Biography, 1972:

Chapter 2:

These chapters are an intriguing look at Woolf's life in the Victorian nursery. Biographical critics might find her role as nursery storyteller valuable in any discourse on her writing.

I wish he had not brushed off the mentally disabled half-sister, Laura. I would like to know more about her because it seems to me she may have had something to do with Woolf's own illness later.

pp. 22-39.

17 pages.

Chapter 3:

While he may not discuss Laura, Bell does give a loving and detailed portrait of the other half-sister, Stella. Also, I am struck by the relative literary freedom Leslie Stephen gave his daughter in his own library. Much of her serious reading seems to have started at this time. In her voracious reading habits, she reminds me of a young Charlotte Bronte.

Furthermore, her difficulty with clothes apparently started in her youth. She hated stays so much, that she didn't choose to write about them in her diary. or else, she found them so trivial and unimportant that they were not worth mentioning.

pp. 40-57. 17 pages.

Woolf, Virginia. A Change of Perspective: The Letters of Virginia Woolf, 1977.

Letters to Vita Sackville-West Feb. 1927:

Her account to Vita of the Mary Hutchinson-Clive Bell argument where she was placed in the middle reminds me of Pym's novels. Her humor is particularly sharp; for example, she says about one acquaintance's marriage, "Think of the marriage bed! Like marrying a lobster which has been boiled hard as well as red!" (324). I see traces of this humor in various passages of Orlando.

She makes an interesting comment in a letter to Vita dated February 15th, where she says she can only write in certain types of rooms that are almost bare because furniture implies inhabitance. She, on the other hand, must have complete solitude to write. Here, she addressee the critical issue of addressing the "silences" or the "emptiness." The room is a sort of text, and the furniture becomes a vocabulary that speaks of the people who use it. She goes on with this discourse and asks if an ashtray can interfere with one's solitude. She concludes that it can because like any signifier, it has associations and can stand for various signifieds. The memory of associations could easily disturb one's solitude.

Woolf continues to write in this semiotic style in other letters written during February. For example, she addresses her sister, Vanessa Bell, as a masterpiece to be left untouched. (334). A modern critic like S. Gubar in "The Blank Page" might argue that such a characterization objectifies Vanessa, but I would say that Vanessa is a sort of a sign herself, and that when she addresses her like this, Woolf sees her as a text. (334).

pp. 322-372. 50 pages.

Woolf, Virginia, Letters of Virginia Woolf, Vol. I:

March 1927:

Once again Woolf addresses the idea of semeiotics and the multitext when she writes to her sister "I think we are now at the same point: both mistresses of our medium as never before: both therefore confronted with entirely new problems of structure." (341). More than any other I read, I feel this passage labels Woolf a structuralist.

Later on, in a letter to Sackville-West, she comments that she likes Edith Sitwell's appearance. As we would say, Sitwell is making a "fashion statement" in her red-flounced red cotton. (344). I would note that for someone who hated to buy clothes for herself, Woolf was keen on "reading" other peoples' wardrobes and what they had to say about them.

Overall, I find I enjoy Woolf's letters immensely. We seem to share a love of curiosity shops, etc. Also, she is informally describing semiotics and structuralist criticism which make the letters a valuable source for the critic.

pp. 322-372. 50 pages.

Woolf, Virginia. Moments of Being, 1976.

"Am I a Snob?"

I found this essay to be refreshing in tone for its honesty.
There is nothing self-righteous about Woolf and she does not take herself as seriously as some other writers do. (Say, for example, Norman Mailer!). Also, her own explanation of why she hates buying clothes caught my interest. I have been following her dislike of shopping for clothes in her letters and diaries. Also interesting is her assertion that she exposes a lot of skin to literary reviewers but very little flesh and blood. (211). Such a comment raises the issue of just how much the "author" wants us to read about herself. Such a comment illustrates the structuralist viewpoint that even the author is a sort of created text. S/he creates a persona that s/he wants the reader and general public to accept as true.

Also witty are her comments about name-dropping and well-lit drawing rooms. (210). It seems as though these drawing rooms and settings are sort of texts which Woolf both likes to read and inhabit as a participant.

pp. 203-220. 17 pages.

Woolf, Virginia. The Question of Things Happening: The Letters of Virginia Woolf, Vol. II:

Introduction: I found a remark by E.M. Forster interesting because it stated that Woolf believed that society with its bloody wars and preoccupation with money was manmade, as though society was indeed a text constructed by males.

The summary of the contents of this volume is helpful, but I think it's a bit long-winded. I'd rather read the letters themselves. What I find admirable about Woolf is that, despite her bouts with mental illness, she managed to accomplish a tremendous amount of work; also, I am glad that the introduction touches on her relationship with Leonard and that its author at least tries to vindicate her of dominating his life.

pp. viii-xxvi. 30 pages.

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own, 1975.

Chapter 4:

Chapter 4 continues in the same vein as the rest of the book. That is, that for women to have written in the "Good Old Days," she need time and money. Otherwise, she was too busy rearing and caring for big families and large households. This chapter focusses on Lady Winchilsea who was born in 1661, was childless, and wrote poetry. Woolf analyzes in some detail a poem by Winchilsea where Winchilsea addresses the question of women writing in the seventeenth century. Woolf also notes the example of Aphra Behn before proceeding to Austen, Eliot and Bronte. What I like about Woolf's discussion is that she points out the differences among women writers and does not lump them and their philosophies together. As she says, it is possible that Charlotte Bronte failed to understand entirely Jane Austen.

As usual, Woolf's essay is absorbing and witty.

pp. 61-81. 20 pages.

Emma Lazarus; Another Excellent Woman

When Worlds Collide: The Conflicting Worlds of Emma Lazarus

American Jewish women writers of the nineteenth century faced the dilemmas of reconciling American citizenship with Jewish culture and the desire to write with traditional female roles assigned to them by their families and heritage. As Diane Lichtenstein says in her article on Jewish American Women writers, American Jewish women valued free speech, but they felt confusion and conflict between the use of free speech in their "personal struggle to be citizens of the American democracy at the same time that they were members of the ancient Jewish nation" (3). These women struggled to synthesize Old World Jewish Values with American myths of womanhood like "The True Woman." Female Jewish writers had a traditional obligation to ensure their families' well-being. After that obligation was met, they had to learn to be Americans; after learning that, they could write. More likely than not, once they began writing, one of their favorite themes would be describing America as a sort of Promised Land (Girgus 106).
Relatively wealthy Sephardic Jews like Emma Lazarus assimilated fairly quickly into American society. For example, they mostly wrote in English and identified themselves as Americans (7). As American women, they felt that the True Woman myth applied to Jews as well and strove to be guardians of home and hearth, of morality and culture. They tried to be gentle, refined, and sensitive, embodiments of Coventry Patmore's "Angel of the House," since it was these characteristics that defined the American True Woman, requiring them to be good wives and mothers (7). American Reform Judaism helped the Jewish woman to be more American for, among other changes, men no longer read the prayer thanking God they were not women and women were not isolated in balconies during the service (Lichtenstein 117). Moreover, Lichtenstein says that, unlike the "Victorian Child-woman" who needed constant protection lest she faint, Jewish women did not have to prove their adult status; they believed that they played a vital role in their community by preserving their religion and nation (154).
Jewish women received great praise for fulfilling the Mother of Israel role, so they were eager to play the Mother in America role as well. In short, they became subjects of two nations (103). Therefore, it was possible for an Emma Lazarus to write prolifically and passionately about Jewish and American ideals without feeling guilt. It was this same confidence in traditional roles and American ideals that may have encouraged another Jewish American woman who had been a refugee, Golda Meir, to go on and become the prime minister of Israel. At any rate, Emma Lazarus dealt with the conflicts of being a Jewish American woman writer by identifying herself with male writers and by attempting to reconcile in her writing her Jewish and American heritages through focussing on shared ideals between the two.
Emma Lazarus was unique to the traditional norms because she did not marry; therefore, she could forge her own world through the words she wrote without worrying about the needs of husband and children. These same words would validate her position as Jewish writer and advocate of Jewish refugees. Also, because she wrote to educate the American public about Jews, she was, in a way, fulfilling the Mother role of teacher (Lichtenstein article 251).
Because a venerated American poet, Emerson, blessed some of her earlier poems, Emma had won "permission to write" from society (251). Still, Lazarus understood that gender and nationality were not easily separated and her poems like "The Choice" and "The New Colossus" illustrate the difficulty of synthesizing these two worlds. Even a single woman had to fashion a role for herself within the traditional model; an unmarried woman was encouraged to do charity work in lieu of caring for home and family. Lazarus was one of the few Jewish women writers of the nineteenth century who was not also a mother and wife. Hence, when Emma Lazarus headed the relief work for the Jewish Refugees housed on Ward's Island in the 1880's, she was really filling the traditional caretaker role. In short, Jewish women who wanted to write in the nineteenth century had to define myths for themselves so that they could pursue their vocation to write and still fulfill their traditional place in Jewish and American society. The myth they eventually fashioned defined them as "Mothers in Israel."
As a "Mother in Israel," a Jewish woman was responsible for preserving Judaism within the refuge of the home. It was she who kept the sabbath traditions and who kept the kitchen Kosher (11). Like the biblical Deborah, the prophet, who led her people to victory over the Canaanites, the Jewish woman instilled pride in her family through maintaining these traditions in her home. Emma Lazarus, styled a "Princess in Israel" by one of her biographers, fulfilled the mother role by exhorting American Jews not to forget their heritage and to take pride in their history in poems like "The Banner of the Jew" and in her Epistles to the Hebrews. She may have been defiant to not write from the wife/mother perspective, but she was fulfilling the mother role because, like Deborah, she fought anti-Semitism; she used words to attack Christians and Jews who had become complacent and therefore, vulnerable to anti-Semitism. Ironically, some of this complacency existed within her own family. Her sister Annie converted to Catholicism and would not allow Emma's Jewish poems to be published after her death (Cowen 30). At one point in Emma's career, Annie referred to a visitor in the house, Phillip Cowen of The American Hebrew, as "Emma's Jewish editor" (33).
Still another difficulty that Jewish American Women writers faced was the fact that, even in America, there was anti-semitism. In fact, all Jews had enjoyed an uneasy welcome to the New World. In 1654 in New Amsterdam, they were prohibited from engaging in trade, they could not take part in public government or hold office, and they could not practice Judaism in a synagogue. The Governor of new Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant, upheld these restrictions (Lichtenstein 103). If anything, the restrictions have a Medieval flavor and remind one of the same prohibitions which led Jews to become money lenders in the Middle Ages. Emma Lazarus was aware of anti-Semitism in the United States, and for this reason she advocated establishing a Jewish state in Palestine for the new refugees arriving daily. Also, by advocating for a Jewish state, Lazarus was protecting her own esteemed position as an upper class Sephardic Jew. She was afraid the less-sophisticated Eastern European Jews would inspire new waves of anti-Semitism as they looked for jobs among gentiles and brought religious and cultural customs with them that looked strange to American urban dwellers (192).
With her writings, Emma Lazarus took up the cause of Jewish pride and instilled American Jews with new fervor. Her efforts also brought aid and refuge to those who were the victims of Russian pogroms and of other atrocities. For example, in response to an apologia for the pogroms which was written by a Russian writer and aristocrat, Madame Zinaida Ragozin, and published in The Century, Emma wrote "Russian Christianity v. Modern Judaism" (May 1882), and "The Jewish Problem" (Feb. 1883). These articles were pleas to understand Jews and denounced the pogroms in Russia (Lichtenstein article 255). Lazarus consulted Jewish scholars and Rabbi's before she wrote both pieces, so that righteous indignation was backed up with historical fact and Biblical evidence.
Yet, Emma was not without conflicts, and her life was not without contradictions. These conflicts and contradictions stemmed from the fact that she believed passionately that she belonged to both the Jews and to the American nation. For examples in her poems and letters, she writes to defend the Jews and to praise Emerson and American Literature simultaneously (22). Yet, as a Victorian woman, Emma cold not vote, as a Jew, she was subject to anti-Semitism, and as a Jewish woman, she was denied male privileges under 3500 years of orthodox law (Lichtenstein article 247). A look at her poem "1492" indicates some of the contradictions and ironies in her own heritage. During that year, Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain, and Columbus set sail and "discovered" America. 1492 is a "two-faced year" because, while discovery of the New Year ostensibly offers hope beyond the "doors of sunset," the Jews are "Hounded from sea to sea, from state to state,/Close-locked was every port, barred every gate" to the Jew (Lazarus II 22-23). It is interesting that this poem, written in 1882, anticipates some of the language later used in "The New Colossus." There, the West, which had refused the Jews in 1492, proclaims the words "Ho, all who weary, enter here!" with "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Now, the "Golden door" will finally open for them. Evidently, with the establishment of America and its Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, the Jews can now enter America with the promise of Freedom of Religion. Here, Lazarus is buying into the American myth as first created by the Puritans, that American is the "promised land." This idea of an American promised land inspired many Jewish writers to write, as Emma did, of the United States as a sanctuary for the world's persecuted Jews (Girgus 106).
Emma Lazarus dealt with these contradictions in her life by identifying herself not with the traditional Jewish and Victorian female roles, but by avoiding them through identifying herself with male writers. Also, she attempted to reconcile Jewish ideals with American principals of freedom and independence by finding similarities in the two heritages and by illustrating what she believed these similarities to be in poems like "The New Colossus."
Some of her contemporaries had the same idea. After her death, her sister, Josephine Lazarus, in The Spirit of Judaism, would advocate that Judaism and Christianity be melted into one religion to achieve a true synthesize of the history and ideals that the two shared (Lichtenstein 249).
According to Lichtenstein, Emma's language is not traditionally female (Lichtenstein article 250). Her subjects are not traditional, either. For example, she does not write about children, hearth, and flowers. Early in her career, while still a teenager, she chose to write about the Civil War. In "The Banner of the Jew" and other poems she uses battle cries and war imagery to rouse her people. For example, in "The Banner of the Jew," the poet urges "Wake, Israel, wake! Recall to-day/The glorious Maccabean rage. . ." (Lazarus II 10). In lines similar to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," Lazarus calls for a "battle anthem" like that which called the Jews to defeat the Syrians in the days of Judas Maccabee (11). She ends with "Strike! for the brave revere the brave!" (12). The tempo of the poem is brisk and urgent, the rhythm inspiring, and the whole poem is filled with exclamation points. Later, she calls for "a million naked swords to wave" to save Israel and for "martial fire" to rekindle itself (11). Another poem, "The Crowing of the Red Cock" was inspired directly by the Russian pogroms of the 1880's. "Red cock" was code for an anti-Jewish pogrom in Russia (Vogel 149). In a memorial to Emma printed in Century after her death in 1889, Whittier said that the poem was "an indignant and forceful lyric worthy of the Maccabean age" (Cowen 37). Here, too, Emma is linked with the ancient prophets and heroes. Whittier's comment likens her to Judas Maccabee, who defeated the Syrians after a long, eight day siege which is discussed in more detail in Emma's poem "The Feast of Lights."
Moreover, Emma identifies herself with the great male artist, or the American version of Wordsworth's "mighty Poet." She would have been happy to know that some of her critics agreed with her, and one compared her to Byron, because, like him, poetry came easier for Emma than speech (Price 371). She carried this mental image to the end of her life, and, like Heine, dragged herself with her last strength before the statue of Venus in the Louvre to "worship" classical art. She describes Heine's pilgrimage and how he wept before the statute in her poem "Venus of the Louvre," calling Venus "The foam-born mother of Love, . . . who stood while "at her feet a pale, death-stricken Jew, . . . sobbed farewell to love/Here Heine wept" (Lazarus I 203). Certainly she was compared to male poets in her own time and her "Admetus" was judged to be superior to Browning's "Apollo and the Fates" which dealt with the same subject of mythological love. Once again, Emma would have been happy to be compared to a great male artist who openly admired her work and who told her so.
In another series of short poems, "By the Waters of Babylon," describing the Exodus from Spain in 1492, Emma identifies herself with one of the male Jewish prophets. In "IV The Prophet", Number 1, Moses Ben Maimon lifts his perpetual lamp over the path of the perplexed (45). Prophets themselves are "branded" with "live coal" in Emma's poem (45). The opposite of the light of truth for her is the "dark corner" of "misery and oppression,"(65), which is further representative of ignorance. In this series of poems, Moses Ben Maimon, the prophet, lifts his lamp to guide the lost and weary, just as the "Mother of Exiles does in "The New Colossus." Once again, Lazarus steps into the shoes of a male figure, and, with her writing, attempts to guide her people with words of courage to the New World.
In her prose, Lazarus openly aligns herself with male figures. In her novel Alide: an Episode in Goethe's Life (1874), the plot centers around Goethe's love for a country girl. The lovers separate, however, when Goethe realizes that Alide is not his "spiritual or intellectual equal" (250). Emma may have even been familiar with Madame de Stael's novel, Corinne, which dealt with the opposite problem, a woman who could not find a man to be both her lover and spiritual equal. Emma identified with Goethe, the great poet, because he could "break earthly bonds" to fulfill art (250). Emma, too, wanted to escape the conflicting roles in her life, she wanted to cease being a True Woman and potential Mother of Israel in exchange for the right to be a genderless artist. In this way, she could "fight" through her words for the ideal in which she believed and which she believed linked both Judaism and Americanism. She also identifies with the male artist in her story "The Eleventh Hour" and in the narrative poem "Raschi in Prague." Raschi, the hero of the poem, is an intellectual and a physician he burns with the fire of his convictions and his "beauty of a soul" is "as an aureole crowns a burning lamp" (Lazarus II 25-26). In "The Eleventh Hour," a young Romanian artist feels like an outcast in America, which he came to because he thought it was the land of opportunity. Sergius, the artist, is disappointed by the art of the United States as well as by the country itself. Freedom to him is a sham because the culture appears so rough and savage. Another character, Dick, urges Sergius to be patient, and to cultivate America's potential (Lichtenstein article 250). In this story, Emma is talking to herself and to other American artists. She is acknowledging that there are contradictions in America's freedoms, but if everyone is patient, there is more potential in American for freedom of all kinds than there is in any other country. Artists must urge freedom through their writings and works, and newcomers, like the refugees, need only to have patience and to work hard, and soon, they will shape America into the kind of free nation they have been seeking. After all, if the American people shape the country, they must continually speak out against injustice and define the ideals of the Bill of Rights. True, the country was barely 100 years old when Emma wrote this story in approximately 1878, yet she does not apparently deal with the contradiction in this freedom that women could not vote. By identifying herself with male artists, she does not have to deal with that conflict. Moreover, Emma is not at all like the woman character in the "Eleventh Hour," Emma portrays the woman in a negative way for using her art to manipulate men to act for her instead of acting for herself (250). These early male characters serve as "straw men" which Lazarus speaks through until she finds her own voice in the Jewish poems of the 1880's where she becomes a new Ezra in poems like "The Banner of the Jew" by lifting the literary banner of Israel to sing its praises (251).
Another way Emma identified with male poets was to emulate them, as she does Longfellow in "The Jewish Synagogue at Newport," (1867). According to Diane Lichtenstein, in emulating Longfelllow in this poem, Emma was validating her own literary voice (251). Also, she wrote the poem partly as a response to Longfellow's "In the Jewish Cemetery at Newport (1858)." The quatrain with which Lazarus took issue reads as follows:
"But Oh! What once has been shall be no more'
The groaning earth in travail and pain
Brings forth its races, but does not restore,
And the dead nations never rise again" (EL quoted in Cowen 28).
At this point in her career, Lazarus was more interested in classical themes, but she felt compelled to answer Longfellow's charge that the Jews were a dying nation. She felt that the influx of Jews fleeing Europe and the controversies of the Jewish question proved that the Jews were alive and needed no miracle to establish their nationality (28).
In the second stanza of "The Jewish Synagogue at Newport," Lazarus writes that "The light of the 'perpetual lamp' is spent/That an undying radiance was to shed" (Lazarus I 160). In other words, the law of Israel, Moses' law is no longer heeded because the synagogue is closed. Therefore, the truth which emanates from that law no longer enlightens the congregation. In the poem, Lazarus likens the perpetual lamp to a New World of Light. Even this early in her career, the vacant synagogue has become a symbol for the scattered, assimilated refugees who would soon find themselves stranded on Ward's island, unwitting muses for Lazarus's later Jewish poems. Lost Israel is connected with the light of law and truth in the poem because it is called the "Fair sunrise land" (160). Besides warmth, the light of the sun is associated with riches and idealism (Cirlot 320). As the "sunrise land" Israel is ideally, the promised land, replete with spiritual riches for those who remain faithful and allow their path to be lit by the light of truth and law.
The battle was not easily won for Lazarus, her poem "Echoes" published in Admetus in 1888 but written earlier, exemplifies her struggles. She cannot share the battle wounds of men, but she can fight in a different medium with her pen. She cannot take part on the battlefield because she is screened or veiled by "domestic duties" and the traditional roles imposed on her (249). The speaker in the poem hopes that "manly, modern passion shall alight" on her Muse's lips (Lazarus I 210). Once again, the poet wishes for male attributes, here modernism is called "manly." Yet, it is interesting because the Muse is, apparently, still feminine. The title, "Echoes" also echoes the woman's underground struggles to become writers (249). Also, Echo was the nymph who, ignored by her lover, faded away until only her voice was left. The title and allusion fit Emma herself, for she was known only by her written words, she never spoke in public and was often described as "shy, and retiring" by male contemporaries who had met her (251). One later Jewish male biographer judged Emma according to the Mother of Israel paradigm and said that, before she wrote the Jewish poems, Emma was "nearing spinsterhood without getting anywhere in poetry or in life" (Simonhoff 132). Simonhoff chooses to ignore the acclaim Emma won for her early poems; after all, a Jewish woman writer could not be taken seriously. As far as Simonhoff is concerned, Emma lived in an "ivory tower" and was "reared in a wealthy home without men" (132). She has not fulfilled her mother role, and has not nurtured her family, so Simonhoff judges her for neither seeking nor attracting "prospective wooers" (132). Her own sister, Josephine, ironically an advocate of Women's Rights, defined Emma as a "True Woman," who was "too distinctly feminine" to risk being exceptional or "To stand alone and apart, even by virtue of superiority" (251).
Also, the men whom Emma tried to emulate, and who often praised her and gave advice to her, sometimes refused to take her seriously as their artistic equal. Emerson, for example, served as her mentor for about ten years, and the two exchanged quite a correspondence in which he critiqued and praised her poems. Yet, she was left out of his 1874 anthology, Parnassus, with no explanation. The exclusion is particularly ironic since Parnassus was the home of the Muses, female goddesses who were patrons of the arts Emma saw the rejection from the anthology as a public statement that her work did not deserve to stand alongside American figures like Longfellow and Bryant (Lichtenstein 171). This was a devastating blow for her because she believed that her access to America was through the world of American letters (Lichtenstein article 257). For Emma, Emerson embodied the spirit of the new American literature that she was trying to expand with her own writing. More than anything, acceptance from Emerson meant to her that she had been accepted for her art, and that her religion and gender were not an obstacle. After his rejection, she came to distrust America's rhetoric of equality," and came to feel that her Jewishness separated her (258). On December 27, 1874, Lazarus wrote Emerson a letter which expressed her pain and disappointment:
"I cannot resist the impulse of expressing to you my extreme disappointment at finding you have so far modified the enthusiastic estimate you held of my literary labors as to refuse me a place in the large and miscellaneous collections of poems you have just published. I can only consider this omission a public retraction of all the flattering opinions and letters you have sent me, and I cannot in any degree reconcile it with your numerous expressions of extravagant admiration . . .Your favorable opinion having been confirmed by some of the best critics of England and America, I felt as if I had won for myself by my own efforts a place in any collection of American poets . . . "(quoted in Lichtenstein article 171).
Clearly, this "literary daughter of Emerson" is indignant and disappointed that she has been left out after she believed that, with the master's blessing, she had won a place for herself in American literature. She was posthumously included in Stedman's anthology of American women poets in 1900, but Emerson's exclusion may have had far reaching effects after all. Not one of the three courses I have taken which have focussed on Emerson have so much as mentioned Emma Lazarus.
Soon after the rejection by Emerson, Lazarus became aware of the Russian Pogroms and was inspired to write the Jewish poems to aid the cause of the refugees. Emma visited the Jewish refugees in Schiff Refuge on Ward's island in October, 1882. These were the victims of the pogroms who were literally fleeing for their lives. conditions on Ward's island were appalling; at one point Lazarus saw a riot for food erupt (Schappes xii). Horrified by the demoralized conditions in which the refugees were kept, Lazarus began to organize relief for them and to write An Epistle to the Hebrews to rally the refugees and American Jews into a new appreciation of their heritage. With her new found inspiration, Lazarus came to see the Jewish refugees as the "pioneers of intellectual progress" (Lazarus 9). Through her writings, she sought to instill in them the ethnic pride and dignity that would help them flourish in America (9). Her Jewish poems had the same goal.
In one of the Jewish poems entitled "The Choice," the Jews are defined as God's chosen people. Their path is full of suffering, but God lights the way for them with His Truth. Law and truth are symbolized by a lamp:
"But in they hand I place my lamp for light,
Thy blood shall be the witness of
My law,
Choose now for all the ages" (Lazarus II 15).
Israel is personified with a "great martyr-forehead" and with"glowing eyes that had renounced the world" (15). Israel is disgraced and despised, but also immortal because God has chosen her especially to know his Truth. The Jew, despised and miserable, holds God's lamp in his wretched had, and God, personally, has favored the Jew because He placed the lamp there. Also, this figure holding the lamp foreshadows the image of the Statue of Liberty in "The New Colossus" where Liberty holds a torch in her hand.
Furthermore, "The Choice" represents the difficult spiritual journeys of Israel and of Emma herself (Lichtenstein article 256). Emma was a wealthy, assimilated Jew who espoused the somewhat radical position of publicly avowing her Judaism. Unconsciously, she served as a role model in the same way that Moses became a role model for the Jews when he declared himself to be a Jew while simultaneously giving up the benefits of being a prince of Egypt. Once again, Lazarus identified herself with a male role model (256). She may have seen herself as a martyr, willing to put her comfortable life in jeopardy to rouse Israel to battle. As she said at the time she wrote her Epistles to the Hebrews, "I am all Israel's now . . . Till that cloud pass, I have no thought, no passion, no desire, save for my own people" (Levinson 65). One wonders if Lazarus realized that she was emulating St.Paul, a male writer in choosing her title. (See for example, the New Testament, St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews).
"The New Colossus," which is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, illustrates Lazarus's most famous attempt to synthesize her two worlds. Another Jewish woman poet, Penina Moise of Charleston, wrote a poem in 1833 called "To Persecuted Foreigners" which anticipates "The New Colossus." The relevant stanza reads as follows:
"If thou art one of that oppressed race,
Whose pilgrimage from Palestine we trace,
Brave the Atlantic, Hope's broad anchor weight,
A western Sun will gild your future day" (In Blau and Baron 418).
Moise's poem also sets out America as a refuge for the "tempest tossed," "huddled masses" escaping Easter persecution. The Sun, an image of light, guides the new arrivals just as the "beacon hand" of the Mother of Exiles will guide them later. Also, it is interesting to note that the Statue of Liberty wears a helmet shaped like a sunburst; her very presence, therefore, guides the immigrants to the Promised Land of America with the sun's light, which is both natural and divine since it is a creation of God.
With the poem, Emma transformed the Statue of Liberty into a symbol of asylum, and extended the myth of America as the Promised Land to the new immigrants (Girgus 121).
Furthermore, Lazarus was inspired in part by one of her own images in the poem "Gifts," that of the exiled Jew searching for a home, his lamp in his hand (Levinson 81). The relevant line reads "No fire consumes him ,[the Jew], neither floods devour;/Immortal through the lamp within his hand" (Lazarus II 21). Finding a place for the lamp would mean for the Jew that a synagogue has been established where the lamp can burn eternally, and where he is at home. Once the perpetual lamp is set to burn, the Jew can never be exiled again. The actual name of the statue, "Liberty Enlightening the World" sparked Emma's imagination (Merriam 124-125). The torch in Liberty's hand further inspired her and the resulting sonnet with its myriad light images came quickly to Emma (125). Actually, a Civil War poem Lazarus wrote when she was a teenager anticipates the "New Colossus:"
More hearts will break than gladden when'
The bitter struggle's past;
The giant form of Victory must
A giant's shadow cast . . ."(Merriam II 97).
It is almost eerie that this giant form parallels the huge proportions of the Statue of Liberty. Yet, the statue makes a symbol of womanhood which defied the "Angel of the House" stereotypes of passivity and demureness (Lichtenstein article 260). Instead, the statue in Emma's poem is more like Deborah, the Old Testament mother figure who has burst outside the home to create a refuge for all the "tempest tossed" victims of anti-Semitism and oppression. Unlike the statue of Venus which Emma visited during her last visit to the Louvre when she was dying of Hodgkins Disease, the Statue of Liberty has arms to hold the lamp for the new arrivals and to enfold them to the bosom of their new country, while the statute from the Old World, Venus, has no arms, and thus "can't help."
Moreover, unlike the Colossus of Greek fame, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Statue of Liberty promises peace, more freedom and posterity to the new arrivals. The Colossus of Rhodes, however, was a reminder of a military victory by Rhodes in 280 B.C. where one group of people led by Demetrius was defeated. It was reputed to have been made from war machines left by the conquered army. Also, Liberty in the "New Colossus" represents justice for people who have been tyrannized under oppressive foreign governments, in this way, the Mother of Exiles is reminiscent of another female, statue, that representing blind justice. The "Mother of Exiles" is majestic, and her eyes "command view" (Lichtensetin 199). She is a regnant figure, more like Boudicca than the Victorian True Woman. Moreover, the sonnet glorifies the statue to symbolize American ideals as well, because the words promise to transform the alien outsider into an insider with the promise of a homeland with its benefits of citizenship (247). Just as God placed His lamp in the hand of despised Israel in "The Choice," so Liberty lifts her "lamp beside the golden door" for the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and the "wretched refuse" of "teeming shore[s]" (Lazarus I 203). The woman statue is thus likened to God, and to the prophet Moses Ben Maimon, God's instrument. Like them, Liberty holds a previously male and divine object, the torch. In this way, too, Emma, the marginal Jewish woman poet became an insider by "valorizing" the refugee outsider, and by incorporating American ideals of freedom in a poem written by a non-Christian American writer. To this day, Emma Lazarus and her sonnet are so much a tradition of the Statute of Liberty, that one biographer, Eve Merriam, calls her book about Emma Woman with a Torch, thus making Emma the statue personified.
In the sonnet, Liberty holds a torch, whose "Flame /Is the imprisoned lightening." She has a "beacon-hand" which "Glows world-wide welcome" and she lifts her "lamp beside the golden door" to light the way for the refugees seeking livery (Lazarus Poems I 203). Liberty is, in effect, the symbol of the Patriotic American Jew who must be a beacon of enlightenment and who must shed light on the equivalence of Jewish and American ideals. Once again, knowledge and truth are symbolized by a lamp, here represented by Liberty's torch. The torch is also symbolic of God's and Natural Law and appears in different forms in other poems. For example, in "The New Year: Rosh-Hashana 5643," "orchards burn their lamps of very gold." the orchards, God's natural phenomena are associated with the lamp images. Therefore, it is both natural and divine law that Israel should blow its sacred cornet and rise again (Lazarus II 1).
Ironically, Lazarus was not invited to the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. For one thing, she was female, and it was feared by the organizers of the ceremony that women would be trampled or hurt during boisterous cheering (Levinson 4-5). For another thing, the pedestal had not yet been planned, so the plaque containing Emma's poem was not on the statue (4-5). Yet, it is still ironic that, in its memorial to Emma, written in 1888, The Century is silent on "The New Colossus," though the magazine highlights almost every other phase of her career and the major poems that exemplify those phases. Perhaps the omission was also due to the fact that the poem had not yet been inscribed on the statute.
Emma Lazarus tried through her writings to prove that she could be Jew, American, and Poet all wrapped up in one. Later biographers like Mary Cohen praised her for achieving that goal (Lichtenstein 252). Cohen wrote about Lazarus in an 1893 edition of Poet Lore and praised her for being an example of "noble womanhood, much sought after by society" (Cohen 320). Cohen emphasized the culture and refinement of the Lazarus home as well as Emma's connection with Emerson, emphasizing that it was Emma's femininity that strengthened her talents and allowed her to fulfill all three roles (320). The predicament of the refugees, according to Cohen, drew forth Emma's womanly qualities, so that her writing in no way took her from her prescribed role as a Daughter, if not Mother, of Israel. By making the connection with womanhood and writing in this way, Cohen validated herself and other would-be Jewish women writers by showing that writing in no way took them away from their traditional roles, it even enhanced them. Yet, Cohen also acknowledges Emma's attempts to align herself with male artists, and notes an affinity between the minds of Heine and Lazarus (324). Though Emma's work fell into relative obscurity after 1920, Jewish women writers still honored her and followed her example. In time, her sonnet was inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, and, in a way, the slight, dark-eyed woman got her wish, for her words have become the epitome of the American dream of freedom for outcasts. The words, so full of imagery, were an attempt to merge two cultures, the Jewish and American, and were written by a woman who devoted her career to achieving a genderless fame in connecting two different worlds.