Nina Joan Auerbach (OW-ur-bahk) emerged as one of the twentieth century’s most important feminist critics. With thorough research and a graceful prose style, Auerbach made many significant contributions to the growth and development of feminist literary criticism. She was also often described as one of the most inventive and imaginative critics of literature.
She was born on May 24, 1943, in New York City, to writer Arnold Malcolm Auerbach and Justine Rubin Auerbach. Her parents assumed important nurturing roles in her writing career. Auerbach publicly thanked her parents for their constant support, and their names appear on the acknowledgment pages of such works as Romantic Imprisonment.
After graduating from high school, Auerbach earned a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1964 and then continued her higher education at Columbia University. She completed her M.A. (with honors) in 1967 and her Ph.D. (with distinction) in 1970. While a graduate student, Auerbach began researching and writing about women in Victorian literature, an area she consistently continued to mine throughout her career. The result of one of her first journeys into this territory was an essay written while she was a graduate student, about Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853). For the next several decades, Victorian literary studies continued to yield good returns for Auerbach. Her works on the subject include Communities of Women, Woman and the Demon, and Romantic Imprisonment.
Auerbach’s first work, Communities of Women, is a comparative study which traces the evolution of the image of female communities throughout two centuries of British and American novels. Several critics called the work innovative. Woman and the Demon received high praise for its daring feminist interpretations of such classics as...
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