Such differences of gender roles , by affecting access to factors like education, experience, time and financial support, have had their influence on the ways in which men and women could participate in literature as writers, readers, critics , and arguably even as characters. It is rather easy to see how education, socially acceptable experience, leisure time and financial background are factors that determine the readership of literature.
As far as education is concerned, even upper and middle class women had serious disadvantages, not being admitted until the late 19 th century to the schools and universities which represented the highest intellectual standards.
Mind the Gap! Modernism and Feminist Praxis
Instead, they typically had to content themselves with a rather more limited education concentrating on moral virtues, modern languages and the social graces of music, singing, drawing, dancing and polite conversation. At the more basic level of literacy , women were at first similarly handicapped in comparison with men. Female literacy levels were lower then male ones in 18 th and 19 th century England and Wales, although by the s more than half, and by almost all women in England and Wales could sign their names in marriage registers.
In addition, by the 18 th and especially the 19 th century, women from not only the upper class but also of the middle classes tended to have significant free time , as well as the financial means to get access to literature through the relatively affordable options of circulating libraries or serial publications. We have them in our library, our drawing-rooms, our bed-rooms, our kitchens — and in our nurseries.
Gender distinctions in education and experience have influenced the lives and works of women authors as well. As certain genres were more dependent on a formal education than others, genre and gender could be seen to be connected.
Mind the Gap! Modernism and Feminist Praxis | Modernism / Modernity Print+
Indeed, one could argue — as George Eliot did in the s — that women authors could successfully turn to novel writing precisely because this genre, as opposed to genres like the epic , was relatively new, with few formal rules and a short tradition almost entirely accessible in English. There was often also much suspicion about the moral consequences that could arise from the treatment of certain subject matters as well as the publicity and financial benefit s involved in female writing.
The late 18 th century novelist Frances Burney was expressly banned by her father from having her plays produced on stage, although she had spent months working on her first one. Female writers continued to experience restrictions in subject matter as to what aspects of life they were supposed to portray or even be aware of.
In addition to limitations of schooling and socially acceptable experience, women authors often also had to labour under economic and legal disadvantages. Literary Passports offers a compelling case for what is lost when scholarship outside of Jewish studies ignores these literatures.
It should be read not only by scholars of modern Hebrew literature, but by anyone interested in Jewish literary history generally, the history and theory of modernism, and the impact of the specific modernity of urban Europe on Jewish culture and consciousness.
Moss, Shofar. Pinsker succeeds in showing that Hebrew prose is a contemporary of European modernist writing and is an active participant in modernist European movements of decadence and symbolism. Pinsker argues vigorously in his extraordinarily impressive book that this Zionist teleology distorts the fundamental character of European Hebrew literature in the early twentieth century. Pinkser's study is based on wide-ranging and thorough research that includes scrutiny of many forgotten texts and also actual visits to the places where Hebrew writers gathered.
Literary Passports performs a valuable service in reminding us how rich and varied [poetic interpretation] was.
He liberates modernist Hebrew literature from the hold of conventional Zionist historiography and allows it to be illuminated by new comparative studies in modernism. Its vivid investigation of the cafe world of the Hebrew writers locates their work in concrete cultural space, and the discussion of sexual themes in Hebrew modernism shows how deeply engaged it was in the prevalent European discourse of the era.
In taking the often-contentious discourse on modernism and nationalism one step further, to the actual transnational spaces where this literature was incubated, Pinsker's contributes to a new post-polemical conversation. Pinsker's book might just be a passport for a whole literature and its critics.