ACCENT MARKS: WRITING AND PRONOUNCING JEWISH AMERICA
1. For overviews of Yiddish and Hebrew literature written in the United States, see David Roskies, “Coney Island, USA: America in the Yiddish Literary Imagination,” and Alan Mintz, “Hebrew Literature in America,” both in The Cambridge Companion to Jewish American Literature, eds. Michael Kramer and Hana Wirth-Nesher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
2. Cynthia Ozick, “Toward a New Yiddish,” in Art and Ardor (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1993), 151–78.
3.Henry Roth, Call It Sleep (1934; repr. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1991), 239.
4. My book deals only with Ashkenazi Jewry, who made up the bulk of the immigration to America. The multilingual dimension of Sephardic Jewry in America is a rich subject that deserves treatment, from Penina Moise and Emma Lazarus to Victor Perera, Andre Aciman, Ruth Knaffo Setton, and Ruth Behar. For a recent anthology, see Sephardic American Voices: Two Hundred Years of a Literary Legacy, ed. Diane Matza (Hanover: Brandeis University Press, 1997).
5. Of course, the Hebrew language is not exclusively or universally associated with sacredness, given its revitalization as a spoken language since the end of the nineteenth century.
6. The influence of Yiddish on American English has been documented by H. L. Menken in The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States (1936; repr. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967), 259–64. See also Gene Blustein, Anglish/Yinglish (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989). Bluestein's book also includes a section on Yiddish in Roth's Portnoy's Complaint. Also Sol Steinmetz, Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1986.) The openness of American English to Yiddish, as opposed to the more controlled linguistic environment that Jews encountered in Europe, makes Deleuze and Guattari's model of minority writing less useful in reading Jewish American literature than it is for reading an author like Kafka.
7. Linda Pastan, “Passover,” in A Perfect Circle of Sun (Chicago: The Swallow Press, 1971).
8. It is interesting that Passover is often the venue for importing Hebrew words into American Jewish writing, such as Jo Sinclair, Wasteland (1946; repr. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1987); Isaac Rosenfeld, A Passage From Home (1946; repr. New York: Marcus Wiener, 1988); Susan Gubar, “Eating the Bread of Affliction,” in People of the Book, eds. Jeffrey Rubin-Dorsky and Shelley Fisher Fishkin (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1996); Anne Roiphe, Generation Without Memory: A Jewish Journey in Christian America (New York: Linden, 1981).