Cynthia Ozick is a daughter to Celia Regelsion and William Ozick who was born on 17th April, 1928 in New York. She has a strong educational background. She is a BA degree holder from the university of New York and Masters degree (MA) holder from Ohio State University. She is a respectable and an outstanding writer who has written several fictions and essays and particularly on the life of Jewish Americans. Some of her works such as the novel entitled ‘Heir to the Glimmering world’ that was released in 2004 made her to become popular in the world especially in the United Kingdom.
Ozick has achieved many awards due to her unmatched writing skills for example she won the 1986’s Rea Award for the short story writer. She was also on the limelight in 2005 when she won the Man Booker International award. As if this was not enough, she won herself the PEN award in honor of her excellent short story writing skills. Her writing career did not occur to her overnight in fact there are some historical factors that motivated and shaped her life to what she is now.
This research paper is going to delve deeper into Cynthia Ozick’s historical background and try to establish the exact factors that influenced her to become a writer of her caliber. The paper will also give brief background information of her life and then conclude with a quick summary of the main points that have been discussed. In the very last page of this paper is a list of all the resources that have been consulted while conducting this research and are properly formatted in accordance with MLA formatting style.
Cynthia Ozick was a second born in her family and her father owned a drugstore where Cynthia would assist him in delivering prescriptions. She hailed from a family that greatly valued education and that is why she ended following the path she took, wring novels, poems and plays. Her father was a great Jewish scholar while her uncle was a renown Hebrew poet whose work was widely read. It is her uncle who for the first time introduced her in the field of literature thereby laying the foundation of her future career.
(Rothstein) She attended school at a time when anti-Semitism was on the highest degree. She first experienced it while she was schooling at Pelham Bay section where she would receive anti Semitic slurs and attacks especially when Christmas carols were sung in class for she would not sing along as it was her principle. (Jiffynotes. com) She never gave up with school life instead she read books of her older brothers and would get others from a mobile library that passed by their drugstore.
Her life took a new dimension when she joined high school at Hunter College where she found the situation being different from that in primary school life in that her education excellence was respected and greatly appreciated something that paved way for her to pursue higher education in 1949 at New York University and later to join Ohio State University for her Master’s program. (Fallon, E. 320-22) Generally speaking, though her life was good at home it was not the same in public.
It was in accordance with Jewish culture that young children in America be taken for religious instructions and Cynthia Ozick was no exception. She experienced her first childhood pain at the age of five and half when her grandmother took her for those classes at Yiddish only to be disappointed by the Rabbi who refused to accept the girl arguing that there was no need to educate females. “Take her home, a girl does not have to study’ (Lowin) Rabbi had no idea whom she was sending away because the girl was bright.
Though she was sent away, her grandmother never gave up in fact she took her again the next morning and she was accepted. Rabbi later discovered that the girl was a quick learner and through Rabbi Cynthia came to learn Yiddish knowledge. The experience of her being sent away from school by Rabbi who believed that girls were dispensable to be educated motivated Cynthia in one way or the other. She says that her feminism cropped up due to this treatment. (Lowin J.)
Another thing that motivated her to write novels was the memories of how she was treated at school in Bronx. Though the girl was intelligent there are other things that made her feel inadequate, ‘While Ozick describes the Pelham Bay section of the Bronx as a lovely place she found it ‘brutally’ difficult to be a Jew there she remembers having stones thrown at her and being called a Christ-killer as she ran past the two churches in her neighborhood” (Lowin J).
she recalls how she was treated so many years down the line something she confirms in her novel, The Cannibal Galaxy which where she describes her life in school that she was suffering like a little worm in school perhaps because she was an immigrant child left under the hands of a teacher who cared less about her life. According to Fallon (323), though Cynthia would not relate well with other children at school there was another option and a better one, books. After school she would burry her head in books that she got from a mobile library that passed by their drugstore once in a week.
She says that the mobile librarians would take their cup of coffee at Park View Pharmacy after they were through with their work and she would pick two big books and magazines which transferred her completely to another world, a world different from what she experienced in school, a world of books where no one would interfere with her life. It could be said that harassment she experienced at school was a blessing in disguise because it made her to study more thereby increasing her level of intelligence.
She was motivated to spend more of her time reading as she could not relate well with other students who would even criticize and throw stones at her while passing by them. (Fallon 324) The books she received from the traveling library magically transformed her life from that of a doltish schoolgirl to a reader and a prominent writer. She started by going through fairly tails and ended up being a renown novelist. The other motivational force came from her uncle Abraham Regelson, a poet who was admired for his outstanding composing and writing skills. She says that Regelson paved a way for her to follow what she refers to as a strange career.
She says, “It seemed quite natural to belong to the secular Id of literature” (Lowin). She attributed her career choice to her gender arguing that if she was born a boy may be she would have pursue something else instead of what she did. She felt more motivated when she joined high school at Hunter College, Manhattan. The school atmosphere was different from that of the primary school. Here it was academic excellence that made one to be recognized and for the simple reason that she was extremely bright, she felt like she was part of the big elite group.
She clearly describes those feelings in her short story book “An Education. ” After she successfully completed her high school education, she proceeded to the University of New York for her BA degree and after that joined Ohio state university for her Masters degree where she wrote her thesis ‘Parable in the Later Novels of Henry James’. In her peace of work entitled, According to Lowin, the lesson of the Master Cynthia Ozick explains how she was influenced by the work of Henry James such that she became a worshipper of literature.
She says, “A worshipper who had to choose between human entanglement, real life and exclusive devotion to art, chooses art. She chose art over life, she says to her eternal regret” (Lowin). Her definition in work of art was confirmed when she directed all her efforts to what she referred to as ‘High Art’ and she embarked on writing philosophical novels such as Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love (MPPL). After that she stopped writing novels and committing herself to other pieces of work like writing Jewish literature. She also got culturally transformed and became what could be termed as Jewish autodidact (Rothstein, M. ).
Later, she would further be influenced by the work of Heinrich Graetz – History of the Jews and thereby she took another dimension as far as writing was concerned. She started writing more about Jews and came to be referred to as a Jewish writer. She wrote many poems with Jewish themes and also published another piece of work entitled the Pagan Rabbi in 1966 which made her very popular as it was widely read. It is from this time that her character in the field of writing started to shine internationally. She won several awards and her stories were chosen as the best in the yearly American Short Stories.
She also won the Faultner Award and the National Book Award plus other dozen grants and awards that were only coveted by many not mentioning the several honorary degrees she was warded by various universities. (Associated Press) Though she was not a direct victim of the Jewish Holocaust, she would recall how Jews were killed by deadly gas by the ruthless Nazis and particularly in Germany. These memories have also become another motivating force behind her career as a Jewish writer because she has spent a great deal of time and energy writing about what was happening during that time.
In conclusion it can be said that Cynthia Ozick’s career was to a large extent shaped by anti-Semitism attacks she met at school. The fact that other students were isolating her and openly criticized opened another door for her. She found solace in books which she received from a mobile library that passed by their drug store. Again having come from a family with people who valued education, she got motivated to study harder than others. Later was later influenced by the work of Regelson and Heinrich Graetz.
Again the memories of how the Jews were treated during the First World War reawakened her conscience something that made her to switch to a Jewish leader. Works Cited: Associated Press. Author Cynthia Ozick wins to lifetime achievement awards. Times Record News. April 24, 2008. Accessed at http://www. timesrecordnews. com/news/2008/apr/24/author-cynthia-ozick-wins-2- lifetime-achievement-a/? printer=1/ Lowin, J. Cynthia Ozick. Jewish Virtual Library. 1928.
Available at http://www. jewishvirtuallibrary. org/jsource/biography/Ozick. html Fallon, E. A Reader’s Companion to the Short Story in English Society for the Study of the Short Story. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001 Jiffy notes . com. Cynthia Ozick. Thomson Gale, 2006. Available at http://www. jiffynotes. com/a_study_guides/book_notes/ssfs_0000_0022_0/ssfs_0 000_0022_0_00022. html Rothstein, M. Cynthia Ozick’s Rabbinical Approach to Literature. New York Times. March 25, 1987. Available at http://query. nytimes. com/gst/fullpage. html? res=9B0DE5D91330F936A15750C0 A961948260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all