Emma Lazarus Criticism - Essay

Edward Wagenknecht (essay date 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wagenknecht, Edward. “Emma Lazarus.” In Daughters of the Covenant: Portraits of Six Jewish Women, pp. 25-54. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1983.

[In the following essay, Wagenknecht comments on Lazarus's life, poetic themes, literary influences, and religious attitudes.]


Emma Lazarus was a pioneer Zionist and one of the very first writers to strike an authentically Jewish note in American literature, but most readers today merely think of her as the only poet who has ever had the honor of having her verses engraved upon the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:


(The entire section is 10504 words.)

Diane Lichtenstein (essay date 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lichtenstein, Diane. “Words and Worlds: Emma Lazarus's Conflicting Citizenships.” Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 6, no. 2 (fall 1987): 247-63.

[In the following essay, Lichtenstein considers Lazarus's identities as a marginalized Jewish-American and female writer.]

Unlike Virginia Woolf who proclaimed that as a woman she had no country and wanted no country,1 Emma Lazarus believed passionately in her rightful place within the Jewish and American nations; even more passionately, she wanted to be counted among the citizens of the American literary nation. Despite her beliefs and wishes, however, Lazarus was an alien in the nations she...

(The entire section is 7304 words.)

Saul S. Friedman (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Friedman, Saul S. “Emma Lazarus: American Poet and Zionist.” In Women in History, Literature, and the Arts: A Festschrift for Hildegard Schnuttgen in Honor of Her Thirty Years of Outstanding Service at Youngstown State University, edited by Lorrayne Y. Baird-Lange and Thomas A. Copeland, pp. 220-46. Youngstown: Youngstown State University Press, 1989.

[In the following essay, Friedman examines Lazarus as a proponent of human rights and a significant precursor of Zionism.]

Born in New York City on July 22, 1849, Emma Lazarus merits a place of honor among the transcendentalist poets of the nineteenth century.1 She was an intimate of America's...

(The entire section is 8602 words.)

Carole S. Kessner (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kessner, Carole S. “Matrilineal Dissent: The Rhetoric of Zeal in Emma Lazarus, Marie Syrkin, and Cynthia Ozick.” In Women of the Word: Jewish Women and Jewish Writing, edited by Ruth R. Baskin, pp. 197-215. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994.

[In the following excerpt, Kessner focuses on the development of Lazarus's Jewish consciousness as reflected in her writing.]

… Emma Lazarus's early years did not suggest that she would become a prototype for the modern Jewish woman writer, nor that she would become a Jewish nationalist in her poetry, a proto-Zionist in her aspirations, nor a socialist sympathizer in her politics,1 nor assertive...

(The entire section is 2114 words.)

Bette Roth Young (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Young, Bette Roth. “The Work,” “Jewish Themes,” “A Jewish Polemic.” In Emma Lazarus in Her World: Life and Letters, pp. 28-42, 52-63. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1995.

[In the following excerpt, Young offers a thematic survey of Lazarus's works, beginning with her interest in heroism and culminating in her treatment of Jewish subjects and polemic against anti-Semitism.]

When we look at additional subjects for Emma's poetry and prose, we find a significant number of artists, heroes, and great men who transcended geography and time: medieval French King Robert Capet; mythic heroes Admetus, Orpheus, Lohengrin, and Tannhauser; the...

(The entire section is 12619 words.)

Shira Wolosky (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wolosky, Shira. “An American-Jewish Typology: Emma Lazarus and the Figure of Christ.” Prooftexts 16, no. 2 (May 1996): 113-25.

[In the following essay, Wolosky studies Lazarus's poetic references to Christ as they serve to link her Jewish and American identities.]

Emma Lazarus was among the first poets specifically to assert ethnic voice in America, indeed ethnic voice as American. In doing so, Lazarus appeals to a typological rhetoric that, as Sacvan Bercovitch explores, had served from the time of the Puritan landing as a founding ritual of American national identity. Lazarus's rendering of this foundational rhetoric, however, requires a singular...

(The entire section is 5653 words.)

Bette Roth Young (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Young, Bette Roth. “Emma Lazarus and Her Jewish Problem.” American Jewish History 84, no. 4 (December 1996): 291-313.

[In the following essay, Young discusses Lazarus's literary response to anti-Semitism and her proposed solution to the problem of Diaspora Jews in An Epistle to the Hebrews.]

“The truth is that every Jew has to crack for himself this nut of his peculiar position in a non-Jewish country.”

Emma Lazarus

Less than a month after Emma Lazarus died, one of her editors, Joseph Gilder, memorialized her in an issue of The Critic, his widely read journal of literature...

(The entire section is 9171 words.)