Four contemporary Jewish women writers from Argentina
Cohen, Stephanie B.
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Until recently little attention has been paid to Latin American women writers and even less to those of them who are Jewish. This dissertation is an attempt to remedy that situation through the study of four contemporary Argentine Jewish women writers. My introduction explores theoretical issues relating to the specificity of both Jewish and women's writing. Chapter One considers the work of Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-1972). Although a Jew by birth, she shows very little overt Jewish influence in her work because she did not acknowledge her heritage. However, her background appears obliquely throughout her writing, for example, in many biblical references. Pizarnik's perspective on women is equally elusive, but nonetheless can be traced in her treatment of love and loss. Ana Maria Shua (1951- ), whose writing is the subject of the second chapter, is openly Jewish and unavowedly feminist. I study those aspects of her work that can be considered Jewish, such as her interest in the immigrant experience and her recounting of traditional Jewish folk tales. Although Shua does not admit to being a feminist, her books portray female dominance over men, particularly in El marido argentino promedio. Chapter Three centers on the writings of Manuela Fingueret (1945- ). Traditional customs, the Yiddish language and biblical references appear in her fiction and poetry. She depicts her female characters as strong and independent. Her poetry contains an element of eroticism, which she presents from a distinctively feminine perspective. The final chapter studies the work of Alicia Steimberg (1933- ). Steimberg's characters indicate contradictory feelings about being Jewish. Steimberg, like Shua, deals with the Jewish immigrant experience; she focuses on women, many of whom work outside the home. Steimberg's treatment of eroticism is idiosyncratically straightforward in its emphases. The dissertation's epilogue summarizes its conclusions and points the way for additional work to be done on Latin-American Jewish women writers.
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