Accidents of Influence

Writing as a Woman and a Jew in America

By Norma Rosen

Subjects: Jewish Studies
Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture
Paperback : 9780791410929, 210 pages, September 1992
Hardcover : 9780791410912, 210 pages, September 1992

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Table of contents


1. A Holocause Mentality

The Holocaust and the American-Jewish Novelist
Simone Weil—A Dissenting View
The Bird Has No Wings: Letters of Peter Schwiefert
Bernard Malamud and the Accidents of Influence
The Literature of Contempt
The Second Life of Holocaust Imagery
On T. S. Eliot: Geniuses and Anti-Semites
Hunting Metaphors and Nazis
"I Had the Distinct Impression Death was Jewish": E. L. Doctorow
Norman Mailer's Holocaust-Poisoned Jews
The Fate of Anne Frank's Diary
Justice for Jonah, or, A Bible Bartleby
Minority Writers and the American Mainstream: Telling Stories in the Houses We Create
Notes Toward a Holocaust Fiction


2. Life Notes


On Living in Two Cultures
Writing as a Woman and a Jew in America
Friday Night Fever
A Women's Service
Women? Writers?
On the Dearth of Female Intellectuals
Her Price Above Rubies
Low Thoughts Among the High-Minded
Sons and Mothers
The World's First Crop
Sometimes I Feel Like a Siblingless Child
An Immoral Tale
William Faulkner and the Art of Ruthlessness
The Luck of the Trip


3. Celebrations


"Wadja Geffa Christmas, Li'l Boy?"



For Norma Rosen, the Holocaust is the central event of the twentieth century. In this book, she examines the relationship of post-Holocaust writers to their work in terms of subject, language, imagery, and facing up to the task of writing in a post-Holocaust era. She considers the work of such major influences on our time as T. S. Eliot, Simone Weil, Anne Frank, E. L. Doctorow, Norman Mailer, Eugenio Montale, Philip Roth, and Saul Bellow. Accidents of Influence combines critical analysis with personal response and autobiographical moments. It includes quotidian encounters in friendship, sex, society, art, politics, response to violence, and religious observance, which struggle for moral ground in this post-Holocaust era.

Norma Rosen currently teaches at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is the author of the novels Joy to Levine!; Touching Evil; At the Center; John and Anzia: An American Romance; and a collection of short stories, Green.


"Norma Rosen is a first-rate writer and thinker. The Holocaust, women's consciousness, ideas of the self, literary ciriticism, multiculturalism: Rosen's topics read like a list of crucial agenda items for the last decade of the twentieth century. Rosen is a crisp writer of great probity, in whose work moral tension is taut and palpable. " — Alan L. Berger, Syracuse University.

"What I like most is the sound of this particular human voice in the act of thinking and feeling on the most excruciating subject of our age: what was done and suffered in the Holocaust. It is interesting and impressive that this preoccupation with — this immersion in — unmanageable events is seldom of a personal or egotistical nature. It is not her own, it is her husband's and a people's suffering and loss with which Norman Rosen wrestles. " — Lore Segal, University of Illinois at Chicago

These essays stand as important reflections both on the bleakest period of modern history and on the creative artist's approach to historic phenomena. They offer an enlightening complement to the work of historians and social scientists. " — S. Lillian Kremer, Kansas State University