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'Confounding closed systems': transforming the boundaries of jewish identity in Rebecca Goldstein's novel mazel

Gert Buelens UGent and Bart Lievens UGent (2010) ENGLISH STUDIES. 91(8). p.907-919
abstract
In contemporary Jewish American fiction, the themes of immigration and resettlement take on a renewed significance. In various short stories and novels, a threefold composition – (prewar) life in Europe, the transatlantic journey and settlement in America – serves as a starting point for the contemplation of postwar Jewish American identity. Rebecca Goldstein’s novel Mazel is an excellent example of this. The novel reconstructs the lives of three generations of women in a setting that covers both prewar Europe and postwar suburban America. It portrays the complex mother-daughter relationships and depicts the different worlds that each woman inhabits – worlds that are unknown to the others. But this novel also deals with the notions of origin, belonging and not belonging, the possible continuity of tradition, and different definitions of Jewish identity. This essay suggests that Goldstein portrays a constant struggle with ethnic or communal identity – a struggle structured around inclusiveness and exclusiveness – that results in a broadening of the concept of Jewish identity. The novel attains this by challenging and undermining fixed or predetermined ideas and dichotomies (man/woman, shtetl/outside world, tradition/modernity, Europe/America, past/present, descent/consent). Instead, Mazel eventually offers the idea of a more hybrid and flexible definition of Jewish identity that favors the fusion of a strong communal identity with the possibility of multiple affiliations. These ideas are specifically rendered through the character of Fraydel, the sister of one of the main protagonists.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
journal title
ENGLISH STUDIES
Engl. Stud.
volume
91
issue
8
pages
907 - 919
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000284881600007
ISSN
0013-838X
DOI
10.1080/0013838X.2010.517304
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
1245943
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-1245943
date created
2011-05-27 15:13:29
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:44:40
@article{1245943,
  abstract     = {In contemporary Jewish American fiction, the themes of immigration and resettlement take on a renewed significance. In various short stories and novels, a threefold composition -- (prewar) life in Europe, the transatlantic journey and settlement in America -- serves as a starting point for the contemplation of postwar Jewish American identity. Rebecca Goldstein{\textquoteright}s novel Mazel is an excellent example of this. The novel reconstructs the lives of three generations of women in a setting that covers both prewar Europe and postwar suburban America. It portrays the complex mother-daughter relationships and depicts the different worlds that each woman inhabits -- worlds that are unknown to the others. But this novel also deals with the notions of origin, belonging and not belonging, the possible continuity of tradition, and  different definitions of Jewish identity. This essay suggests that Goldstein portrays a constant struggle with ethnic or communal identity -- a struggle  structured around  inclusiveness and exclusiveness -- that results in a broadening of the concept of Jewish identity. The novel attains this by challenging and undermining fixed or predetermined ideas and dichotomies (man/woman, shtetl/outside world, tradition/modernity, Europe/America, past/present, descent/consent). Instead, Mazel eventually offers the idea of a more hybrid and flexible definition of Jewish identity that favors the fusion of a strong communal identity with the possibility of multiple affiliations. These ideas are specifically rendered through the character of Fraydel, the sister of one of the main protagonists.},
  author       = {Buelens, Gert and Lievens, Bart},
  issn         = {0013-838X},
  journal      = {ENGLISH STUDIES},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {8},
  pages        = {907--919},
  title        = {'Confounding closed systems': transforming the boundaries of jewish identity in Rebecca Goldstein's novel mazel},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0013838X.2010.517304},
  volume       = {91},
  year         = {2010},
}

Chicago
Buelens, Gert, and Bart Lievens. 2010. “‘Confounding Closed Systems’: Transforming the Boundaries of Jewish Identity in Rebecca Goldstein’s Novel Mazel.” English Studies 91 (8): 907–919.
APA
Buelens, Gert, & Lievens, B. (2010). “Confounding closed systems”: transforming the boundaries of jewish identity in Rebecca Goldstein’s novel mazel. ENGLISH STUDIES, 91(8), 907–919.
Vancouver
1.
Buelens G, Lievens B. “Confounding closed systems”: transforming the boundaries of jewish identity in Rebecca Goldstein’s novel mazel. ENGLISH STUDIES. 2010;91(8):907–19.
MLA
Buelens, Gert, and Bart Lievens. “‘Confounding Closed Systems’: Transforming the Boundaries of Jewish Identity in Rebecca Goldstein’s Novel Mazel.” ENGLISH STUDIES 91.8 (2010): 907–919. Print.