Call It English: The Languages of Jewish American Literature

By Hana Wirth-Nesher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
“Aloud she uttered it”— —Hashem
PRONOUNCING THE SACRED: CYNTHIA OZICK

There is one God, and the Muses are not Jewish but Greek.

—Cynthia Ozick

Since the coming forth from Egypt five millennia ago, mine
is the first generation to think and speak and write wholly
in English.
—Cynthia Ozick, “Preface,” Bloodshed and Other Novellas (1976)

AS WE HAVE SEEN, Bellow's work preserves traces of both Yiddish and Hebrew as markers of ethnicity and collective memory, the former a sociohistorical marker of the world of his grandparents, eastern European Jewish culture, and the latter as a transhistorical marker of Jewish civilization embedded in ancient texts and in ritual. What Cynthia Ozick shares with Bellow is the experience of being a native-born American from an immigrant household with Yiddish as the language of home. Like Bellow, she has also translated Yiddish literature into English. But Ozick has sustained an intense interest in the process of translation, so much so that she has devoted several essays to the subject as well as one of her most well-known stories, “Envy, or, Yiddish in America.” For Ozick, the question of translation is intertwined with ethical questions about art and religion, about the act of creating fictional worlds in a Jewish civilization that prohibits idol worship. Writing out of the fierce opposition of Hebraism and Hellenism, as articulated both in Jewish writings and in the English literary tradition through Matthew Arnold, Ozick has portrayed many manifestations of idolatry, from worship of nature (in “The Pagan Rabbi”) to sanctification of Holocaust remembrance (in The Shawl). “There is one God, and the Muses are not Jewish but Greek,” writes Ozick on the relationship between Judaism and literature. What does that mean for the Jewish writer steeped in her Anglo-American equivalent of Greek?

More than half a century after Mary Antin's public declaration of her love for the English language—“in any other language, happiness is not so sweet, logic is not so clear”—Cynthia Ozick also composed a paean to the English language. Hers is an equivocal and somewhat resigned embrace, passionate but skeptical.

-127-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Call It English: The Languages of Jewish American Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 224

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.