The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.


on February 11, 2012


Readers views on this subject would be welcome.

At a book club meeting, the reading for which was Cynthia Ozick’s The Shawl, this issue was raised and interests me. Ozick, if you are not familiar with her, is an Award Winning  American  Jewish novelist, essayist, feminist, short story writer. The leader of the group raised this question.

“Can a writer ever be free to write  – free in the sense of not being attached, encumbered by his culture – not being a slave to his time and place of birth?”

She then went on to point out several authors who made valiant efforts to do so and failed. Philip Roth, for example, cannot escape his Jewish identity despite the fact that he does not respect it and, in fact, often portrays it negatively.  Ozick, as brilliant as she is, can’t do it either.  She tries but it influences most of what she writes. What about Isabel Allende? Can she escape her South American heritage – the political atmosphere in which she was raised? You can undoubtedly think of many others.

The question becomes – is it possible?  Further, does it apply to artists in other fields.  Is a painter or a composer or a sculptor FREE to express his art without being so influenced?  What do you think?


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