Cynthia Ozick's Fiction

Cynthia Ozick’s Fiction

Tradition and Invention
Elaine M. Kauvar
Distribution: World
Publication date: 4/1/1993
ISBN: 978-0-253-11639-0
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A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1994
“Superb novelists deserve first-rate literary analysis. Cynthia Ozick has found such critics . . . most recently in Elaine Kauvar, whose present work is simultaneously a profound contribution to Ozick interpretation and an astonishingly readable account of the novelist’s ideas and artistic manner. . . . Highly recommended.” —Choice

“ . . . comprehensive and beautifully written . . . ” —Studies in the Novel

“ . . . an indispensible work of scholarship. . . . Cynthia Ozick’s Fiction, in sum, demonstrates an astute and comprehensive grasp of both Ozick’s writings and the vast store of writings that influence her . . . a definitive and indispensible study . . . ” —American Literature

“ . . . a rare combination of painstaking scholarship with dazzling critical intelligence and inventiveness.” —Edward Alexander

“ . . . Elaine Kauvar’s comprehensive and beautifully written study of Cynthia Ozick’s fiction should be welcomed as a heroic counter-cultural manifesto, both in what she says and in the elegance with which she says it.” —Congress Monthly

Looking beyond the stereotype of Ozick’s work as American-Jewish literature, Kauvar illuminates the intricacies of Ozick’s texts and explores the dynamics of her creativity. Kauvar provides readings of all of Ozick’s fiction from her first published novel, Trust, through The Messiah of Stockholm.

Author Bio

ELAINE M. KAUVAR, Associate Professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York, has published articles on William Blake, Jane Austen, James Joyce, and Cynthia Ozick.


"Superb novelists deserve first—rate literary analysis. Cynthia Ozick has found such critics in Joseph Lowin, Victor Strandberg, and most recently in Elaine Kauvar, whose present work is simultaneously a profound contribution to Ozick interpretation and an astonishingly readable account of the novelist's ideas and artistic manner. Kauvar accounts for Ozick's views antithetical to those of T.S. Eliot; yet she observes Ozick's allegiance to the judgements of history, her concept of tradition as itself innovation and advances current conjecture that Cynthia Ozick may eventually be judged our T.S. Eliot. Unlike some contemporary critics, who decontextualize literature, Kauvar offers a contextual examination of Ozick's recurrent themes, demonstrates Ozick's relationship to her artistic predecessors, and illuminates patterns and textual interconnections to reveal the substructure and doubling of the texts and establish the author's place in contemporary American letters. Although Kauvar echoes established critical studies in her emphasis on the conflict between Hebraism and Hellenism, the perils of art, and the consequences of assimilation, she propels some of these concepts to surprising ends such as her interpretation of the Holocaust novella, Rosa, in light of the Aeneid, her perception of the overarching concern with the father in the fiction, and her attention to flower and color imagery. Kauvar faults critics who focus on the Jewishness of Ozick's work, arguing that such a view cannot illuminate any of the intricacies of the fiction; few critics, however, do exhibit the exclusivity she attributes to them. Kauvar herself places Ozick centrally in Hebraic, Hellenic, and American literary traditions. Highly recommended." —S. L. Kremer, Kansas State University, Choice , September 1993

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Table of Contents


The Struggle for Exactitude

The Insistent Sense of Recognition

The Dread of Moloch

The Uses of Fantasy

The High Muse of Fusion

The Magic Shawl

The Pulse of Ancestry


Works Cited