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Ebook The Open Cage: An Anzia Yezierska Collection by Anzia Yezierska read! Book Title: The Open Cage: An Anzia Yezierska Collection
The author of the book: Anzia Yezierska
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 741 KB
ISBN 13: 9780892550364
Edition: Persea
Date of issue: October 17th 1993
ISBN: 0892550368

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One cannot read Anzia Yezierska's heart-felt stories without feeling empathy and affection for her and the downtrodden characters she writes about.

Her daughter, Louise Levitas Henriksen, wrote her mother's biography, "Anzia Yezierska: A Writer's Life." Louise makes it clear that her mother's stories are composite tales of persons and events, as opposed to literal depictions of individuals.

Anzia takes the writer's liberty of masking names and places; but there's little doubt of the veracity of such suffering and grief during that era of mass immigration from Eastern Europe, as we know from other authors of the period, such as Upton Sinclair.

The hardship Anzia experienced in her climb from scrub maid and laundry slave to successful writer is palpable. And it thoroughly vindicates the passion evinced in her own works, although she was roundly criticized for fixating on the theme of the mistreated immigrant Jew, and for identifying with them even after she herself attained success.

After reading her biography and a couple of her books, it's pretty clear to me that Anzia didn't want success... she wanted to be heard and to be loved.


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Ebook The Open Cage: An Anzia Yezierska Collection read Online! Date of Birth: 1885
Date of Death: 1970

Anzia Yezierska, the youngest of nine children, was born into poverty circa 1885 in Russian Poland. Her family immigrated to the Lower East Side of Manhattan around 1892. Immigration officials used the oldest child's name, Mayer, as the last name of the family and switched Anzia's name to Harriet, and so she became Hattie Mayer. After attending elementary school in the United States for only two years, Yezierska started working by selling homemade paper bags, sewing buttons, and rolling cigars. Later she worked in sweatshops and laundries. Yezierska quarreled often with her father, who devoted all of his time to Talmudic study and traditional ideas. Largely due to this, she left home in 1899 and rented a room at the Clara de Hisch Home for Working Girls.

Yezierska won a scholarship to Teacher's College, part of Columbia University in 1901. During college, she had to work in a laundry to pay for expenses not covered in the scholarship. She had little interest in domestic studies, for which her scholarship was granted, and she felt inferior to the American students at the school. She graduated in 1905 as a cooking teacher, but she did not remain a teacher for long because she disliked it intensely.

Yezierska married Jacob Gordon, but she left him the day after the ceremony. The marriage was annulled after six months, because she had refused to consummate it. Later that year she married Arnold Levitas, but the two quarreled often over money and housework. Levitas wanted Yezierska to play the role of the traditional wife, but Yezierska rejected being inferior to her husband. She became pregnant in 1912 and went to live with her sister on the West Coast, where she came to think of herself as a spokesperson for Jewish immigrants. Although she took a job as a social worker for Hebrew Charities in San Francisco, Yezierska was unable to support her daughter as a single mother and was forced to send her to live with her father.

She did not begin creative writing until 1913, when she was about 28, but she published her first story two years later in Forum Magazine. Yezierska returned to the east in 1917 but could only find part-time teaching jobs.

Fearing that she was a victim of class prejudice, she went to John Dewey, the dean of Teacher's College, for help. He encouraged her to write, allowing her to attend his graduate seminar and hiring her as a translator for a project. There was romantic interest between the two, which he ended by taking a three year lecture tour in the Far East. Characters like Dewey appear in many pieces of Yezierska's writing.

Yezierska's story, "The Fat of the Land," was called the best story of 1919 by Edward O'Brien. Hollywood offered $10,000 for the movie rights to the film, and Yezierska went to California, but she refused to sign the three year contract. A fellowship at the University of Wisconsin in 1929 allowed her to continue writing. Returning to New York, Yezierska became impoverished once again during the depression, and so she was able to join the New York Work Projects Administration Writers Project. In addition to short stories and novels, Yezierska wrote book reviews for the New York Times. She wrote her autobiography in 1950 and died forgotten in 1970.


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