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Modernism, Feminism, and Jewishness


  • Page extent: 242 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.53 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521880978)

Modernism, Feminism, and Jewishness
Cambridge University Press
9780521880978 - MODERNISM, FEMINISM, AND JEWISHNESS - by Maren Tova Linett


Modernism, Feminism, and Jewishness explores the aesthetic and political roles performed by Jewish characters in women’s fiction between the World Wars. Focusing mainly on British modernism, it argues that female authors enlist a multifaceted vision of Jewishness to help them shape fictions that are thematically daring and formally experimental. Maren Linett analyzes the meanings and motifs that Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, Dorothy Richardson, Sylvia Townsend Warner, and Virginia Woolf associate with Jewishness. The writers’ simultaneous identification with and distancing from Jews produced complex portrayals in which Jews serve at times as models for the authors’ art, and at times as foils against which their writing is defined. By examining the political and literary power of semitic discourse for these key women authors, Linett fills a significant gap in the account of the cultural and literary forces that shaped modernism.

MAREN TOVA LINETT is Assistant Professor of English at Purdue University.



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© Maren Tova Linett 2007

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the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2007

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-0-521-88097-8 hardback

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For Dominic and Ruth


Acknowledgments page viii
List of abbreviations x
Introduction: imagined Jews and the shape of feminist modernism 1
1 “Strip each statement of its money motive”: Jews and the ideal of disinterested art in Warner, Rhys, and Woolf 32
2 Transformations of supersessionism in Woolf and Richardson 60
3 Adding bathrooms, fomenting revolutions: modernity and Jewishness in Woolf and Warner 80
4 The race must go on: gender, Jewishness, and racial continuity in Barnes and Richardson 111
5 The “No time region”: time, trauma, and Jewishness in Barnes and Rhys 140
6 Metatextual Jewishness: shaping feminist modernism 173
Notes 190
Works cited 216
Index 227


In its first incarnation this study benefited from the excellent guidance of my teachers at the University of Michigan. George Bornstein, Todd Endelman, Jonathan Freedman, Anita Norich, Suzanne Raitt, and John Whittier-Ferguson generously shared their extensive knowledge. Suzanne Raitt provided a stimulating introduction to women’s modernism. The rigor of Anita Norich’s thinking and teaching served as a model for me as I moved from teaching assistant to scholar and professor. And John Whittier-Ferguson continues to inspire my academic work with his nuanced scholarship and dedicated mentoring. While at Michigan I was fortunate to work with Bryan Cheyette, who was visiting for a semester; his groundbreaking work forms a foundation for my own. I am also grateful for the friendship and academic support of Seunghee Ha, John Ramsburgh, and Elizabeth Yellen.

At St. Cloud State University, Judy Dorn, Debra Gold, Chris Gordon, Steve Klepetar, Jeff Mullins, and Suzanne Ross provided much-appreciated advice and encouragement as the project changed shape. At Purdue I am grateful to Emily Allen, Kristina Bross, John Duvall, Minrose Gwin, Margaret Rowe, Aparajita Sagar, and Jennifer William for moral and practical support and for incisive readings. Emily Allen and Jennifer William in particular have given much time and energy to read the manuscript and offer helpful advice. I would also like to thank Amy Feinstein and Miranda Hickman for their friendship, valuable comments on my work, and enthusiasm for things modernist.

At Michigan my dissertation work was supported by grants from the Mellon Foundation, the Rackham Graduate School, the Department of English, and the Marshall Weinberg Prize for Excellence in Judaic Studies. My later work on Jean Rhys’s manuscripts, especially material for chapter 5, was enabled by research at the Department of Special Collections, McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa. I am grateful to St. Cloud State University for the funds to carry out that research, and for an additional summer Faculty Research Grant. Finally, I was able to rework my dissertation into this very different book thanks in large part to a junior research leave from the Department of English at Purdue and a Purdue Research Foundation Grant. I am grateful for all these forms of support. I am also indebted to A. Delignat for his kind help with the cover image by Simon Segal. Finally, I want to thank the wonderful team of editors at Cambridge University Press: Joanna Breeze, Ray Ryan, Maartje Scheltens, and my copyeditor Libby Willis.

Some of this material has been published elsewhere. Parts of chapters 2 and 4 appeared in “ ‘The Wrong Material’: Gender and Jewishness in Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage,” The Journal of Modern Literature 23.2 (Winter 1999–2000), 191–208. Material from chapters 1 and 2 appeared in “The Jew in the Bath: Imperiled Imagination in Woolf’s The Years,” Modern Fiction Studies 48.2 (Summer 2002), 341–361. And part of the argument of chapter 5 appeared as “ ‘New Words, New Everything’: Fragmentation and Trauma in Jean Rhys,” Twentieth Century Literature 51.4 (Winter, 2005), 437–466.

My family has been consistently supportive of my academic work, and I would like to thank them here. My father David Linett and his spouse Penny Linett have conveyed their pride and support at all stages of this work. My brother Peter Linett, his spouse Cheryl Slover-Linett, and their amazing daughters Amelia and Sophie have enthusiastically shared my trials and successes. Peter and Cheryl have also read sections of this book and offered insightful comments. My mother Deena Linett has been unstinting in her encouragement, energy, and time; she, too, has read portions of this book as it unfolded over the years, and given valuable feedback. I am deeply grateful for her support. Finally, I want to thank Dominic Naughton for his devotion to our family and for believing not only that I could complete this project, but that it would be worthwhile. I dedicate this book to him, and to our daughter Ruth, who makes everything sparkle.


References to these sources will be given parenthetically in the text.

BTA Woolf, Virginia. Between the Acts. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1969.
Diary Woolf, Virginia. The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Ed. Anne Olivier Bell. 5 vols. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977.
GM, M Rhys, Jean. Good Morning, Midnight. New York: W. W. Norton, 2000.
Letters Woolf, Virginia. The Letters of Virginia Woolf. Ed. Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann. 7 vols. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978.
N Barnes, Djuna. Nightwood. New York: New Directions, 1961.
Pargiters Woolf, Virginia. The Pargiters. The Virginia Woolf Manuscripts from the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collections of the New York Public Library, Woodbridge, CT, 1993.
P Richardson, Dorothy. Pilgrimage. 4 vols: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1967.
Room Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. 1929. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.
SWS Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Summer Will Show. London: Virago Press, 1994.
TG Woolf, Virginia. Three Guineas. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1966.
V Rhys, Jean. Voyage in the Dark. New York: W. W. Norton, 1982.
W Richardson, Dorothy. Windows on Modernism: Selected Letters of Dorothy Richardson. Ed. Gloria Fromm. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1995.
Years Woolf, Virginia. The Years. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1965.

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