Date of Award

12-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Shockley, Megan

Committee Member

Grubb , Alan

Committee Member

Barczewski , Stephanie

Abstract

Irene Nemirovsky was a woman balanced between two worlds--the world of her childhood as the daughter of a wealthy man in Russia and the world of her immigrant status in France. Many critics have maintained that the Jewish Russian writer, Irene Nemirovsky, was an anti-Semite. Writing in the interwar period of the early 20th century, Nemirovsky often used stereotypical Jewish characters in her early writing. As her writing progressed, her subject was often on immigrants and their lifestyle choices in a foreign country. Nemirovsky appears to be a woman of neither world, a woman juxtaposed in the 'borderland' world of her upbringing and the one she chose, the French world during the 1920's and 1930's. This is a world of minimality, a world of shades of grey, where she could find no substantial footing; a world which reflected her choice of the title of one of her novels, The Dogs and The Wolves, because according to a French saying, 'between the dogs and the wolves at twilight, there is no discernible difference.' Nemirovsky's world was much like twilight, the merging of Jewish Russian immigrant with French cultural adaptations would never be completed for the conflicted writer. She would always live in a borderlands world of two nations, never completely relinquishing one through her writing and never being accepted by the other as a French citizen.
What forces in her life influenced Nemirovsky's writing? How did her formative relationships affect her writing? What was happening in France and Europe during this era to encourage Nemirovsky to write with such complexity? What aspects of Nemirovsky's character have previous scholars and biographers not examined?
Nemirovsky's seminal relationships were influential in her lack of connection to her Jewish roots. Moreover, growing anti-Semitism in Europe affected her ambiguous beliefs. Her existence in between two cultures substantially influenced who she was. Even those who accused her of anti-Semitism acclaimed her writing.

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