The particular insights of Jewish women writers and their intimate dilemmas of contemporary life throw light on how society and family have changed for this new generation of writers. The novels attract a larger readership than anyone could have predicted.
Liliane Atlan is a postwar French Jewish writer whose plays, poetry and narratives display innovative forms at the limit of written and oral literature.
Upon her arrival in Palestine in 1923, nineteen-year-old Mita Gutgeld tried her hand at house plastering, tractor driving—and writing plays. As Shulamith Bat Dori, she pioneered the kibbutz theater and staged major theatrical performances which, at the beginning of the 1950s, were attended by ten percent of the country’s population.
Berthe Bénichou-Aboulker was the first woman writer to have her work published in her country of birth, Algeria, whose generous land and mixed population she praised in Pays de flamme (Land of Flame).
In presenting her plurality as an Ashkenazi Jew, a Mexican, a woman and a playwright, Sabina Berman (b.1954 Mexico) accomplishes far more than simply allowing her readers to identify with her hybridity and search for self. She creates a space where fragmented memories are fleshed out by the imagination and the desire to recreate the past in order to make sense of the present.
The French actress Sarah Bernhardt, named by her fans the “Divine Sarah,” is recognized as the first international stage star.
This article focuses on the fate of biblical women in post-biblical times.
“That genius imp, that laughing, hilarious, tortured elf” was how Truman Capote described the writer Jane Bowles, who, with her composer-writer husband Paul Bowles, became the center of an avant-garde circle in Morocco. Her darkly comic, original work was admired by writers such as Capote, Tennessee Williams, John Ashbery, and Alice B. Toklas.
With more than twenty book titles to her name, Brøgger has received many awards and prizes including the Scena Drama Award for best play (After the Orgy) in 1992 in Washington D.C.
A novelist, playwright, and ritualist, Esther M. Broner emerged on the literary scene in the early 1970s as a leading feminist writer. Her novels feature bitter, fearless, and funny characters. In other works, Broner has combined autobiography with feminist critique of Jewish tradition and created new rituals, such as her 1976 “Women’s Haggadah.”
All of these aspects are clearly reflected in the developmental patterns of Hebrew children’s literature at the end of the eighteenth century; likewise, the ways in which this literature became established serve to illustrate the factors that led to the institutionalization of children’s literature in Europe in general.
A biographical entry on the Jewish-Algerian-French writer Hélène Cixous commands close attention to her work because, in her case, “life writing,” as she calls it, is a key topic for her imaginative and critical enterprise in the fields of poetic fiction, literary theory, feminist analysis, and the theater.
Esther Dischereit, a German-Jewish writer living in Berlin, speaks for the second and third generation of children of Holocaust survivors. Her prolific production covers all genres, including prose, poetry, sound installations, and concept art. She uses her many talents to fight anti-semitism and racism and to give a voice to the persecuted and forgotten.
A determined and talented performer, Selina Dolaro raised four children alone while pursuing an illustrious acting and singing career in late nineteenth-century England and America. Dolaro performed in various London operas, most notably as the title role in the first English version of Carmen. She made her American debut as Carmen in 1879.
Ruth Fainlight was born in New York on May 2, 1931, the daughter of a British father and an American mother with Russian-Jewish ancestry. In 1946 she settled in England, where she studied at colleges of art in Birmingham and Brighton. She married the writer Alan Sillitoe in 1959. The couple have one son and one daughter. Although a successful writer of short stories, a dramatist/librettist and translator, she is best known for her poetry, whose modern style blends subtle image-making with toughness of expression.
A dedicated writer for more than fifty years, Edna Ferber was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on August 15, 1885. She celebrated America even as she exposed its shortcomings. Her published work includes twelve novels, twelve collections of short stories, two autobiographies, and nine plays—most in collaboration with other playwrights.
Rose Franken was a celebrated Broadway playwright and director, a Hollywood screenwriter, and a popular novelist whose fiction touched a sympathetic chord in American women. After much success as both a playwright and a novelist, she ventured into more problematic subject matter, exploring antisemitism and homophobia in her works.
Arguably the most important woman writer of post-World War II Italy, Natalia Ginzburg was born on July 14, 1916 in Palermo (Sicily), where her Jewish Trieste-born father, Giuseppe Levi, who later achieved fame as a biologist and histologist, was at the time a lecturer in comparative anatomy. Modest and intensely reserved, Ginzburg never shied away from the traumas of history, whether writing about the Turin of her childhood, the Abruzzi countryside or contemporary Rome—all the while approaching those traumas only indirectly, through the mundane details and catastrophes of personal life.
Argentine-born Nora Glickman is a prolific dramatist and short story and non-fiction writer, translator, editor, and professor of Latin American literature.
Not only did Goldberg work in a vast range of creative areas—as a poet, author of prose for adults and children, playwright, gifted translator, scholar and critic of literature and theater—but in every one of these fields, and certainly in her poetic output, one can discern many and varied “channels”—from diverse poetic genres to surprising and innovative uses of language and form.
In 1902, Luba Robin was the first woman to graduate from the school of medicine at the Western University of Pittsburgh (later the University of Pittsburgh). Her career combined private medical practice, teaching, writing, lecturing, and active participation in educational, social, and public health work.
In her extensive unpublished correspondence with Wolfgang von Goethe, Sophie von Grotthuss (born Sara Meyer in Berlin) describes her difficult farewell to Judaism. Her mother, a woman possessed by an unnatural hatred of religion, “married [her] off at the age of fifteen to a wretched creature who for ten years made [her] life a hell.” As she frequently wrote, the marriage in 1778 to the merchant Lippman Wulf completely destroyed her. After Wulf’s death in 1788, she revived, traveled a great deal, particularly to the spas of Bohemia, where in 1795 she became acquainted with Goethe, with whom she corresponded until 1824. In 1799 she married the Livonian Baron Ferdinand Dietrich von Grotthuss, who was soon impoverished and became postmaster in Oranienburg. In her later years she was a prolific author. In an unpublished letter to Goethe, dated August 14, 1824, she refers to a novel, a play and several stories, which she was sending him for approval. Apart from the story, “Sophie ou la difference de l’Education,” two unpublished manuscripts, “Opinions of a German Woman, written in Dresden in the summer of 1814,” and a play, The German Governess, her works appear to have been lost.
Since its beginnings in the 1920s, Hebrew theater has been perceived by its audiences as a “high” cultural activity, and the topics it chooses to present have often prompted public controversy and debate. However, what has generally been ignored is the fact that prior to the 1980s there was an almost total absence of women-related topics and women’s voices in Hebrew theater.