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EVANGELICAL AND PROGRESSIVE INSCRIPTIONS IN MARY ANTIN'S AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL DISCOURSE.

Mary Antin, born on June 13, 1881, in Polotzk, a district town in the government subdivision of Vitsyebsk, Russia, immigrated to the United States in 1894, together with her mother and two siblings. Her father had preceded them by three years and made the transatlantic reunion of his family possible. The family settled in Boston, where Mary Antin attended the Girls' Latin School in Boston; afterward, she attended the Teachers College of Columbia University and Barnard College in New York. She married Amadeus William Grabau--a German-American paleontologist, geologist and Columbia University professor--in 1901, and thus became well established in the New England middle-class intelligentsia. After publishing a brief autobiographical narrative and a short story, (1) Mary Antin had seven installments of her life story printed in The Atlantic Monthly, between October 1911 and April 1912. The installments, originally selected and adapted from a book manuscript, were a success and would shortly thereafter, in September 1912, be restructured and published by Houghton Mifflin as The Promised Land. The book covers, in twenty chapters, the author's reminiscences of her life in Polotzk and Boston until her grammar school graduation in 1898. Mary Antin's life story suited the exceptionalist rhetoric of the times, and the author subsequently became a frequent public lecturer on immigration to America and women's rights. Her public standing was confirmed by President Theodore Roosevelt's statement that he had become a supporter of women's suffrage because of women like Mary Antin. She separated from her husband during World War I on account of their differing views on America's role in the international conflict, followed by Grabau's relocation to China. After a relatively long period of illness, Mary Antin died, aged sixty-seven, on May 15, 1949 (McCann 2010, 1-16; Sollors 1997, xi-l).

After her death, neither Mary Antin nor her publications any longer stimulated much academic interest, until 1997, when Werner Sollors reedited The Promised Land and published it together with an introduction that reiterated the text history and explained its significance in the context of a growing interest in ethnicity and cultural studies in the United States. Since then, literary critics and historians have generated a diverse response to The Promised Land, (2) albeit mostly focused on Antin's assimilationism. (3)

The author's relationship with Progressivism has been cursorily mentioned by most of the scholarship to date, with two exceptions: Lori Jirousek's "Mary Antin's Progressive Science: Eugenics, Evolution, and the Environment" and Sarah Sillin's "Heroine, Reformer, Citizen: Novelistic Conventions in Antin's The Promised Land." However, Jirousek's aim to demonstrate that "Antin wrote as a Progressive activist, who believed that scientific research and legislative reform could bring positive social change, including protecting and improving living conditions for immigrants" (Jirousek 2008, 58) strictly refers to a few brief descriptions of the Boston slums and overlooks the remainder of the text. Moreover, Sillin's discussion of Progressivism with Antin is based on the concept of the New Woman, as defined by Charlotte J. Rich in her Transcending the New Woman: Multiethnic Narratives in the Progressive Era, and is very rarely supported by illustrations from Mary Antin's Promised Land. For instance, Sillin considers that one central, Progressive feature of Antin's life narrative consists in her criticism of the Boston slums she inhabited (Sillin 2013, 32). In fact, whereas there are a few paragraphs in chapter 16 ("Dover Street") and one paragraph in chapter 9 ("The Promised Land") that feature negative qualifiers in descriptions of the slums, Antin generally provides a romanticized version of the shantytown, as reflected by chapters 16 to 19, and succinctly expressed by the title of the penultimate chapter in her autobiography, "A Kingdom in the Slums" (Antin 1912b, 286, 337-59).

Mary Antin's relationship with the Christian mainstream and/or Christianity has been tackled by previous scholarship mostly in relationship to her rhetoric of rebirth and revival when describing the immigrant experience in America (Kellman 1998, 149-59; McGinity 1998, 285-307; Miller 2007, 319-41; Dayton-Wood 2009, 81-98; Sheffer 2010, 141-202; Yudkoff 2013, 4-35; McCann 2010, 1-16; Sollors 1997, xi-l). Significantly, Michael Kramer, in his 1998 essay "Assimilation in The Promised Land: Mary Antin and the Jewish Origins of the American Self," demonstrates that her use of "Christian tropes to describe the immigrant experience" is aimed at making such an experience familiar to the Christians, and not to introduce the author as a convert to Christianity (Kramer 1998, 139). On the other hand, Julian Levinson, in a chapter in his book Exiles on Main Street: Jewish American Writers and American Literary Culture that is suggestively entitled "Ecstasies of the Credulous: Mary Antin and the Spirit of the Shtetl," acknowledges the influence of Christianity qua American Puritanism and, vicariously, Emersonian Transcendentalism on the memory rhetoric of The Promised Land. The conversion message from Antin's Introduction is presented as assimilationist: "the nation itself serves as the agent of redemption" (Levinson 2008, 44). Moreover, there is one shtetl revelation of "Life Universal" and reminiscences of the great-grandfather's and her mother's authentic Judaism that hint at the spiritual impact of her friend Josephine Lazarus's Reform "claims that 'inner law' is the central teaching of true Judaism" (Levinson 2008, 41-46). Neither Kramer nor Levinson engages with the evangelical ideology, entwined with Progressive elements, that permeates Mary Antin's autobiographical discourse.

The scholarly approaches mentioned so far perceive Mary Antin as an essentialized, reliable self-referential writer, ignoring the problematic tripartite structure of the historical, narrating, and narrated selves involved in the memoir texts. The present article discusses Antin's autobiographical texts in two original versions: The Atlantic Monthly installment series, and their extended, book version, The Promised Land, in light of contemporary autobiography theories on the textual self's performativity, positionality, and relationality. The purpose of my cultural textual analysis is to achieve "a more nuanced examination" of the "rhetorics of identity" of the autobiographer (Smith and Watson 2010, 214-18) by focusing on "the narrated" and "the narrating I" perspectives on the specific lived experience. (4) Thus, in this article I discuss Mary Antin's life narrative as a cultural identity production of a performative, highly subjective author in relation to contemporary American Protestant Evangelical and Progressive ideologies as reflected in the text of the installments and that of the first edition of The Promised Land. Whereas in most textual instances discussed here the installments are identical to the book version of the memoir, I point out differences that speak furthermore to the performativity and relationality of the self, particularly in light of the author's correspondence with Atlantic Monthly editor Ellery Sedgwick and her brief, handwritten, unpublished address to her potential readers, "Word to My Fellow Citizens." I hence aim to demonstrate the transatlantic discursive hybridization of the Eastern European Jewish immigrant's life writing via the cultural import of contemporary American Progressive and Protestant evangelical ideologies.

Mary Antin did not convert, in a strictly denominational religious sense, from a Judaism she did not believe in to a Protestant Christianity she never assumed; neither did she mock or reject the latter as she did with her shtetl lore. She rather sought to exchange the condition of a Russian Jewish immigrant with that of a non-ethnic American citizen, and thus to obtain political, social, and even economic redemption. (5) In the texts of her correspondence with Ellery Sedgwick, the editor of her Atlantic Monthly autobiographical series and of The Promised Land, the narrative voice describes America as a salvational "miracle," the New Canaan retrospectively revealed:
In after years, when I passed as an American among Americans, if I was
suddenly made aware of the past that lay forgotten,--if a letter from
Russia, or a paragraph in the newspaper, or a conversation overheard in
the street-car, suddenly reminded me of what I might have been--I
thought it miracle enough that I, Mashke, the granddaughter of Raphael
the Russian, born to a humble destiny, should be at home in an American
metropolis, be free to fashion my own life, and should dream my dreams
in English phrases. (Antin 1912b, 197)
Here is where I liked to remind myself of Polotzk, the better to bring
out the wonder of my life. That I who was born in the prison of the
Pale should roam at will in the land of freedom was a marvel that it
did me good to realize. That I who was brought up to my teens almost
without a book should be set down in the midst of all the books that
ever were written was a miracle as great as any on record. That an
outcast should become a privileged citizen, that a beggar should dwell
in a palace--this was a romance more thrilling than poet ever sung.
(Antin 1912a, Installment VII 520; 1912b, 343)


The first fragment above was not included in The Atlantic Monthly corresponding installment (Installment VII, "The Immigrant's Portion"), possibly due to Ellery Sedgwick's editorial policy of including facts rather

than reflections, the latter of which he disdainfully referred to as "personal philosophy." This textual excision is illustrative of the principle controversies regarding the author's memoir style, characterized by inner monologues of self-analysis and intricate subjectivity, anticipative of the future decade's stream of consciousness technique of Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and William Faulkner, and the editor's conservative Howellsian aesthetics catering, in his magazine, to a traditional readership. (6) In a letter dated December 19, 1911, regarding the publishing of The Promised Land and possible future collaborations, Antin wrote to Sedgwick: "As to the question of the 'personal philosophy'--to cut or not to cut. Or how much to cut--I feel as I did from the first. I can understand the type of reader that would skip those things in order to go on with the story" (Ellery Sedgwick Papers, Ms N-85). On the other hand, Ferris Greenslett, the editor of the Houghton Mifflin book edition, seems to have preferred this modernist, writerly version of psychological narration focused on consciousness.

As the two passages from Antin quoted above (from Antin 1912a and b) suggest, the immigrant's encounter with America is described in numinous terms, through a vocabulary of fascination, (en)rapture, glory/glorious, wonder/wondrous, marvel/marvelous, and equivalents. Suggestions of Antin's intuitive prescient Rudolf Ottonian idiom (Otto 1931, 31-180), or, better, pre-Ottonian textual confirmations of the German Lutheran theologian's theory of religious epiphany, abound throughout the autobiography whenever this encounter is to be rendered; additional examples include: "And so suffering, fearing, brooding, rejoicing, we crept nearer and nearer to the coveted shore, until, on a glorious May morning, six weeks after our departure from Polotzk, our eyes beheld the Promised Land, and my father received us in his arms" (Antin 1911, 796; 1912b, 179); and "I rushed impetuously out of the cage of my provincialism and looked eagerly about the brilliant universe" (Antin 1911, 796; Antin, 1912b, 181).

The "miracle" had been preceded by a long transformative process which included secularization qua shedding off the shtetl Judaism that constituted Mary Antin's initial spiritual education. The narrated / is shown, by means of stories told by the narrating /, to grow chronologically from de-Judaization/de-ethnicization, via secularization/atheism, to American Protestant evangelical empathy and Progressivism qua mainstreaming/nationalization. The close, "natural affinity" between religion and ethnicity, especially when there is a strong affective and mental bond between individuals and their "primordial," "ancestral" ethnic group, has been demonstrated by sociologist J. Milton Yinger (Yinger 1994, 255-56). Mary Antin's choice to renounce Judaism and get secularized, while empathically appropriating mainstream ideologies of the turn-of-the-century United States such as Evangelical Protestantism and Progressivism, indicates her deep need to separate herself from the community of Plotzk and the Judaic spiritual values she had started doubting since in the Pale of Settlement, and to assert her new social bonds with the contemporary North American ethos. This paper addresses this process by identifying eight major narrative stages as illustrated by the Atlantic Monthly installments and corresponding chapters in The Promised Land.

As part of the first stage of ethnical/national redefinition, Mary--the narrating I, discloses her father's secular, existential bent as revealed by his failure to meet his wife's, his in-laws', and his wider community's expectations that he should become a Talmud scholar:
If people were disappointed, it was because they had based their
expectations on a misconception of his character, for my father had
never had any aspirations for extreme piety. Piety was imputed to him
by his mother, by his rebbe, by his neighbors, when they saw that he
rendered the sacred word more intelligently than his fellow students.
(7) It was not his fault that his people confused scholarship with
religious ardor. Having a good mind, he was glad to exercise it; and
being given only one subject to study he was bound to make rapid
progress in that. If he had ever been offered a choice between a
religious and a secular education, his friends would have found out
early that he was not born to be a rav. (8) But as he had no mental
opening except through the hedder, he went on from year to year winning
new distinction in Hebrew scholarship; with the result that witnesses
with preconceived ideas began to see the halo of piety playing around
his head, and a well-to-do family was misled into making a match with
him for the sake of the glory that he was to attain. (9) (Antin 1911,
594; 1912b, 64-65)


This biographical feature elicits the daughter-narrator's empathy, made particularly obvious by a straightforward justification for her father's marrying into a well-to-do family: "It was not his fault that his people confused scholarship with religious ardor" (Antin 1911, 594; 1912b, 64-65).

The second stage is represented by the narrating /s account of Israel Antin's efforts to offer, in addition to the traditionally religious basic training, an alternative, laical education to her and to her sister Fetchke. Thus, a secular teacher instructs her in Hebrew, strictly linguistically, and not as a Biblical religious subject (Antin 1911, 598; 1912b, 76). When recounting this experience, the narrating I's anti-shtetl Judaism gets foregrounded. She takes an attitude on the side of Enlightenment secular rationality; Jewish religious education was irrational and "blind" to contemporary modernity: "He [Joseph, Antin's brother] went to a modern school where intelligible things were taught, and it proved that it was not the book he hated, but the blindness of the heder" (Antin 1911, 598; 1912b, 77).

In the third stage, the narrating I reiterates her father's determination to provide secular education to his children:
We were to study Russian and German and arithmetic. We were to go to
the best pension and receive a thorough secular education. My father's
ambition, after several years' sojourn in enlightened circles, reached
even beyond the pension; but that was flying farther than Polotzk could
follow him with the naked eye. (Antin 1911, 606; 1912b, 112)


The practical consequences and significance of this paternal ambition for secular education are further elucidated:
Hitherto we had been to heder, to a rebbe; now we were to study with a
Iehrer, a secular teacher. There was all the difference in the world
between the two. The one taught you Hebrew only, which every girl
learned; the other could teach Yiddish and Russian and, some said, even
German; and how to write a letter, and how to do sums without a
counting-frame, just on a piece of paper; accomplishments which were
extremely rare among girls in Polotzk. (Antin 1911, 607-8; 1912b, 117)


Stage four is represented by the mature /s narrating of her (narrated 7) teenage religious doubts and consequent experimental testing of Judaic religious taboos by breaking the Sabbath ban on carrying anything beyond one's house limitations:
And with her handkerchief in her pocket the audacious child stepped
into the street! She stood a moment, her heart beating so that it
pained. Nothing happened! She walked quite across the street. The
Sabbath peace still lay on everything. She felt again of the burden in
her pocket. Yes, she certainly was committing a sin. With an access of
impious boldness, the sinner walked--she ran as far as the corner, and
stood still, fearfully expectant. What form would the punishment take?
She stood breathing painfully for an eternity. How still everything
was--how close and still the air! Would it be a storm? Would a sudden
bolt strike her? She stood and waited. She could not bring her hand to
her pocket again, but she felt that it bulged monstrously. She stood
with no thought of moving again. Where were the thunders of Jehovah? No
sacred word of all her long prayers came to her tongue--not even "Hear,
O Israel." She felt that she was in direct communication with
God--awful thought!--and He would read her mind and would send His
answer. An age passed in blank expectancy. Nothing happened! Where was
the wrath of God? Where was God? (Antin 1912b, 124-25)


The trespassed commandment and the God she defied were those of Judaism. The conflicting feeling of the teenage narrated I as triggered by her tumultuous engagement with the apparently illogical commandments of her given religion, as well as her chilling discovery of the absence of God, are reconstructed by the narrating I. The emotionally charged rhetoric are meant to narrow down the historical and cultural distance between the narrated /and the reader. Moreover, the accidental discovery of her father's breach on a religious holiday, i.e. his secret putting out of the lamp on Sabbath night, meant to burn until dawn, possibly in order to save some lamp petrol (Antin 1911, 610-11; 1912b, 128-32), is followed by revelatory comments on the counter-religious state of mind of the narrating /: "The discovery of my father's position on the Sabbath question served to shake me further in faith. I wish I had somebody to blame for my weakness in morals also" (Antin 1911, 611).

In a strikingly similar formative move on the Progressive path, the Protestant American Jane Addams, in her twenties, confessed in a letter to closest confidante Ellen Gates Starr: "I have been trying an awful experiment. I didn't pray, at least formally, for about three months, and was shocked to find that I feel no worse for it" (Crunden 1984, 23). There is also a certain degree of biographical similarity in the religious liberalism exposed by Antin's and Addams's father (Israel/Pinchus Antin, John Addams) and the degrees in which it influenced their daughters' ideologies. John Addams's undogmatic Protestant religious practice impressed his daughter.
John Addams taught a large Bible class at a local church; at the same
time, he would never accept any denominational membership. He called
himself a Hicksite Quaker, thus vaguely identifying himself with a
democratic offshoot of the older Quaker church, a group with no
meeting-house near their home. In practice John Addams sporadically
attended several Protestant churches in the area, and had no
recognizable theological beliefs. Instead he developed his own highly
personal creed from common Christian morals....He also quietly
supported his daughter when she was under great pressure to have a
standard, evangelical conversion, and refused to have one. Addams later
remembered his axiom "Mental integrity above everything else" as a
summation of his outlook. She thus fused her image of her father with
this sense of moral righteousness. Like him, she, too, would be
earnest, ethical, independent, and undogmatic. (Crunden 1984, 18)


Stage five is constituted by the narrating I's introduction to secular culture while in Vitebsk, with her uncle Solomon:
The thing that looms up above all the adventures of this pleasant
interval is my introduction, through the books I found in my uncle's
house, to the garden of secular literature. For the first time in my
life I read stories that were not in the Bible, and poetry that was not
solemn. I ransacked the house for dusty old journals, and sat up nights
to read them. Many things fell into my hands that were not intended for
a reader of my tender years and slim experience--wild novels, in
Russian, about cruel Cossacks and abducted maidens,--but nothing
printed ever harmed me, as if the things that did not belong to my
nature failed to take root in my mind. (Antin 1911, 790; 1912b, 149)


She also reads her cousin Hirshel's books:
There were a few books about, in Russian and in Yiddish, that were
neither works of devotion nor of instruction. These were story-books
and poems. They were a great surprise to me and a greater delight. I
read them hungrily, all there were--a mere handful, but to me an
overwhelming treasure. Of all those books I remember by name only
"Robinson Crusoe." I think I preferred the stories to the poems, though
poetry was good to recite, walking up and down, like Cousin Hirshel.
That was my introduction to secular literature, but I did not
understand it at the time. (Antin 1912b, 156)


This secularization phase is marked by the momentary spatial and cultural transfer from shtetl to urban culture, from the strictly minority ethnic space to mainstream national one, albeit Russian/Ukrainian.

Stage six represents one major step in the narrating /s secularization process, as marked by the Boston Latin School for Girls controversy episode, when teenage Mary, as the narrated /, declares herself an atheist (Antin 1912a, 212-13; 1912b, 241-42). The apparent religious crisis was one additional move toward her integration into the national mainstream. Judaism rejected as improperly taught--"the golden truth of Judaism had not been handed me in the motley rags of formalism" (Antin 1912a, 212; 1912b, 242)--is replaced by a rush version of atheism: "I glibly repeated phrases I had heard my father use, but I had no real understanding of his atheistic doctrines" (Antin 1912a, 213; 1912b, 245). The critical Boston Latin School incident concludes with a statement that proves Mary's sublimation of the numinous component of her faith into the adoptive spiritual and political supreme instance, the American Constitution, whose Protestant civic Fathers mentally replace the Hebrew ones:
I perceived that a crowd of Free Americans were disputing the right of
a Fellow Citizen to have any kind of God she chose. I knew, from my
father's teaching, that this persecution was contrary to the
Constitution of the United States, and I held my ground as befitted the
defender of a cause. George Washington would not have treated me as
Rachel Goldstein and Kitty Maloney were doing! 'This is a free
country,' I reminded them in the middle of the argument....Miss Bland
made me understand, somewhat as Miss Dillingham had done on the
occasion of my whispering during prayer, that it was proper American
conduct to avoid religious arguments on school territory. I felt
honored by this private initiation into the doctrine of the separation
of Church and State, and I went to my seat with a good deal of dignity,
my alarm about the safety of the Constitution allayed by the teacher's
calmness. (Antin 1912a, 213; 1912b, 243)


Stage seven, covering the moment of consuming pork in America, reinforces the evidence of the narrated I's wish to abandon her native ethos for the object of her present numinous sublimation and adoration, the United States of America. The mature, narrating I closes the distressing memory of this important ritual infringement with self-consciousness appeasing, Emersonian Transcendentalist "over-soul" ideology and rhetoric:
Over and over and over again I discover that I am a wonderful thing,
being human; that I am the image of the universe, being myself; that I
am the repository of all the wisdom in the world, being alive and sane
at the beginning of this twentieth century. The heir of the ages am I,
and all that has been is in me, and shall continue to be in my immortal
self. (Antin 1912a, 216; 1912b, 251)


Stage eight marks the end of the transformational, assimilative process. Protestant America becomes an integral part of Antin's formative years, as illustrated by the Morgan Chapel as well as Brother Tompkins and Brother Hotchkins (Methodist) episode (Antin 1912b, 267-70); her discovery and attendance of the Hale House (Antin 1912b, 323-26); and the grateful evocation of the Reverend Everett Hale (Unitarian) and several Hale House episodes (Antin 1912a, 518-25; 1912b, 332-35, 346, 349). In the first instance, as shown by a fragment from the book chapter XVI, allegorically entitled "Manna," Mary Antin foregrounds Protestantism qua Methodism and its Progressive socially and culturally integrative activism. She is enthusiastically empathetic about the Progressive Methodism at neighboring Morgan Chapel and her honest explanation of the immigrants' assimilation is in tune with her correspondent, friend and mentor, Israel Zangwill's melting pot ideology:
And there was Morgan Chapel. It was worth coming to Wheeler Street just
for that....The total effect was an exquisitely balanced compound of
pleasure, wonder, and longing....I could not help admiring Brother
Hotchkins, he was so eminently efficient in every part of the hall, at
every stage of the proceedings....If my mother had scruples against her
children resorting to a building with a cross on it, she did not have
time to formulate them. If my father heard us talking about Morgan
Chapel, he dismissed the subject with a sarcastic characterization, and
wanted to know if we were going to join the Salvation Axmy next; but he
did not seriously care, and he was willing that the children should
have a good time....Why? Because my father having renounced his faith,
and my mother being uncertain of hers, they had no particular creed to
hold us to....My parents knew only that they desired us to be like
American children; and seeing how their neighbors gave their children
boundless liberty, they turned us also loose, never doubting but that
the American way was the best way. In public deportment, in etiquette,
in all matters of social intercourse, they had no standards to go by,
seeing that America was not Polotzk. In their bewilderment and
uncertainty they needs must trust us children to learn from such models
as the tenements afforded. More than this, they must step down from
their throne of parental authority, and take the law from their
children's mouths; for they had no other means of finding out what was
good American form. The result was that laxity of domestic
organization, that inversion of normal relations which makes for
friction, and which sometimes ends in breaking up a family that was
formerly united and happy. (Antin 1912b, 266-67)


The fragment was not included into the textually corresponding Atlantic Monthly Installment V, Part IV, called "The Making of a Citizen," on account of Sedgwick's religious neutrality and patriotism, inspired by the Bostonian intellectual status of his magazine's genteel readership. Ferris Greenslett did not mind the Antinesque Judeo-Christian symbolism imbuing the account of immigration experience.

In the case of the intellectual and spiritual influence of the liberal Protestant Reverend Everett Hale, easy to follow in the admixture of Progressive and Evangelical ideas spawn all over the memoir, as marked and discussed here, one may start mentioning the frequency of the presence, in the text of Promised Land, of his name (sixteen times), the name of his residence and settlement home (eleven times) as well as of his daughter (eleven times), to point out the mental and emotional impact of the Hale episode on Mary Antin's life. The revelatory significance of Antin's meeting Reverend Hale also appears in one of her letters to Israel Zangwill, suggestive of the young girl's discipling reading:
And now--I must tell you of the one real event of the last week or so.
It is nothing less than my being introduced to Rev. Edward Everett
Hale....it has made me happier than ever. I have such an adoration for
writers of note that I regard them as superior beings; and to know a
'real, live author' makes me feel so much nearer heaven. My reverend
friend was very kind in our first brief interview. He even invited me
to pay him a call, which, you may be sure, I shall do very soon. (Salz
2000, 9)


The letter was sent when Mary was eighteen (February 24, 1899) and it would be followed by a period of assiduous frequenting of Hale House and the Hales, especially as Dr. Hale's library was at her disposal (Mazur 89; Salz 3). There is no mention of specific books Antin may have perused in Reverend Hale's library in the archival resources known to date, some of which have been published as Edward E. Hale Jr., The Life and Letters of Edward Everett Hale (1917), and Evelyn Salz's Selected Letters of Mary Antin (2004). From the text of the letter Antin seems to have been quite familiar with Reverend Hale's liberal-Unitarian productions, among which the most notorious at the time was the intensely patriotic "The Man Without a Country" (1862) that possibly influenced Antin's nativist book chapter "My Country," previously included in Installment IV, "The American Miracle." In a further letter to Zangwill Antin foregrounds the Progressive Unitarian aspects of Hale House activism: "There is an excellent institution up here in the South End called Hale House Republic, which does some very good work among the children and poor people of its neighborhood" (September 11, 1899 Salz 13).

The Progressive Unitarian reverend's intellectual influence is also suggested by the enthusiastic mentioning of this formative period in Antin's autobiographical text, as in, for instance, this brief presentation of her mentor's activism:
How the debating club prospered in the genial atmosphere of the
settlement house; how from a little club it grew to be a big club, as
the little boys became young men; how Joseph and Isaac and Harry and
the rest won prizes in public debates; how they came to be a part of
the multiple influence for good that issues from Garland Street--all
this is a piece of the history of Hale House, whose business in the
slums is to mould the restless children on the street corners into
noble men and women. I brought the debating-club into my story just to
show how naturally the children of the slums drift toward their
salvation. (Antin 1912b, 325)


Even the Darwinism she discovered in the Natural History Club, initiated under Dr. Hale's auspices and temporarily welcomed by Mary--the narrated I, was emotionally absorbed as a new Universalist religion dedicated to her teenage divinity, America:
Vastly as my mind had stretched to embrace the idea of a great country,
when I exchanged Polotzk for America, it was no such enlargement as I
now experienced, when in place of the measurable earth, with its paltry
tale of historic centuries, I was given the illimitable universe to
contemplate, with the numberless aeons of infinite time. (Antin 1912b,
330)


The influence of Dr. Hale's evangelical Christianity on Antin appears also in the drastic change of her post-immigrant, Bostonian perceptions of Christian symbolic representations, which entails shedding off Jewish "ancient superstitions":
In every Gentile house there was what they called an "icon," which was
an image or picture of the Christian god, hung up in a corner, with a
light always burning before it. In front of the icon the Gentiles said
their prayers, on their knees, crossing themselves all the time. I
tried not to look in the corner where the icon was, when I came into a
Gentile house....I cursed the church in my heart every time I had to
pass it. (Antin 1912b, 6, 12; 1911, 435, 437)
It was Miss Hale who first found a use for our superfluous baby. She
came to Dover Street several times to study our tiny Celia, in
swaddling clothes improvised by my mother, after the fashion of the old
country. Miss Hale wanted a baby for a picture of the Nativity which
she was doing for her father's church; and of all the babies in Boston,
our Celia, our little Jewish Celia, was posing for the Christ Child! It
does not matter in this connection that the Infant that lies in the
lantern light, brooded over by the Mother's divine sorrow of love, in
the beautiful altar piece in Dr. Hale's church, was not actually
painted from my mother's baby, in the end. The point is that my mother,
in less than half a dozen years of America, had so far shaken off her
ancient superstitions that she feared no evil consequence from letting
her child pose for a Christian picture. (Antin 1912b, 349)


The American acculturative experience has emotionally numinous implications for the otherwise declaratively secular Antin. America appears, in her self-writing, as a redemptive miracle that occurred after the spiritual "death," or the long "coma" of her Pale of Settlement shtetl formative period. From this point onwards, the narrating I relates to her shtetl/Pale of Settlement memories museistically and strictly through the narrated I, objectivized in the third-person narrative. This stance matches the one evinced by the post-immigration Polotzk pictures she took and then published in the 1912 edition of The Promised Land, where Antin is just the possible photographer, a reporter telling somebody else's story; she never shows up in those pictures. The touristic aspects of the rememorizing act appear in Antin's presentation of her pre-writing visit to Polotzk:
My husband was planning a European tour which included Stockholm. As we
were studying the maps I suddenly realized how near this would bring me
to Polotzk. From Stockholm there is a steamer to Riga and from Riga we
could sail up the Dvina to Polotzk. On the map it was not more than a
little excursion. 'I must go to Polotzk!' But that idea opened the
floodgates of memory. (Antin 1912d, 12)


In The Promised Land the account of the de-Judaization-secularization-evangelical empathy process is preceded by an Introduction in which the converted narrative I is addressing the reader, to announce, from the very first paragraph, the immigrant Mary's spiritual death and rebirth or revival.
I WAS born, I have lived, and I have been made over. Is it not time to
write my life's story? I am just as much out of the way as if I were
dead, for I am absolutely other than the person whose story I have to
tell. Physical continuity with my earlier self is no disadvantage. I
could speak in the third person and not feel that I was masquerading. I
can analyze my subject, I can reveal everything; for she, and not I, is
my real heroine. My life I have still to live; her life ended when mine
began. (Antin 1912b, xi)


The rebirth and/or revival topoi represented major thematic constituents of American Evangelicalism. In his Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond (2010), Randall Balmer maintains that one major feature of North American Evangelicalism is "a belief in the centrality of a conversion or 'born again' experience" (Balmer 2010, 2). He reiterates Timothy George's conclusions in "Evangelical Theology in North American Contexts," on the specifically Evangelical American character of the Awakenings as revival, as being reborn, promoted by key figures such as George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and D. L. Moody (George 2007, 275-92). (10) Barry Hankins, in his first chapter on American Evangelicals: A Contemporary History of a Mainstream Religious Movement, dedicated to "Awakenings and the Beginning of American Evangelicalism," highlights David Bebbington's four essentials of evangelicalism: (1) Biblicism, (2) crucicentrism, (3) conversionism, and (4) activism (Hankins 2009, 1-2). He explains "Biblicism" as the centrality of the evangelical text for life guidance; "conversionism" as "revivalism" and "a life-transforming event"; and "activism" as involvement in the world and missionary work (Hankins 2009, 2-3).

Biblicism, conversionism, and activism transpire from Antin's letters, memoir and immigration propaganda lectures and texts: "biblicism" as a metaphorical code for the interpretation of Antin's life since her Polotzk "exodus" to the "burning bush" Bostonian revelation of Reverend Hale's Unitarian, Universalist Darwinism; "conversionism" as previously explained by Antin, the American rebirth and complete abandonment of Judaism; as well as her missionary "activism" focused on mediating the immigrant experience to the mainstream and vice versa. They reflect Antin's mentors' and benefactors' influence on her development and writing--a generation that was educated evangelically, but evolved as social and political "ministers of reform" (Crunden 16-38), turning evangelical ethics and creed into political theory and action, as in the famous case of, and the exemplum set by, Jane Addams and her settlement work.

In addition to the examples provided so far, there is a conspicuous plethora of biblical reference in her chapter nomenclature, in both the Atlantic Monthly installments and the book format--"House of Bondage," "Promised Land," "The American Miracle," "Miracles," "A Kingdom in the Slums," "Children of the Law," "The Tree of Knowledge," "The Exodus," "A Child's Paradise," "Manna," "The Burning Bush," as well as associated religious topoi focused on the themes of revival, escape from spiritual bondage into the Paradise of freedom of spirit in America. These accompany her motivation for autobiographical production as humanitarian, missionary. As Antin's life story is never about leaving Polotzk for Palestine, but intently and explicitly focused on escaping the Russian-Jewish territory of the shtetl for the United States of America, the title of the book, as well as the installments' and chapters' biblical denominations can semantically and historically be related only to their significance in American Protestant culture. The very texts of these book chapters contain no direct or indirect reference to possible Judaic significance but reconstruct immigration to the American continent allegorically, in the Calvinist spirit of the Puritan propaganda texts composed by the Pilgrim Fathers (e.g., William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation, Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana) and adapted, with more New Testament focus, in the American Evangelical sermonic discourse of Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, and George Whitefield (e.g., George Whitefield's "The Necessity and Benefits of Religious Society") where Jewish Torah history is replaced with Christian New Testament exceptionalist allegory and where Europe represents the Egyptian "house of bondage" and America stands for the New Canaan.

The originality of Mary Antin's narrative consisted in the surpassing of the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries' "crucible," "smelting pot," and early-twentieth-century's "melting pot" approaches toward the religious and political, i.e., Protestant qua Evangelical and Progressive, ideological interpretation of Eastern-European-Jewish immigration to America. Thus, as Palestine is not the physical and ideological target of Antin's exodus, the biblical references of the series of chapter and installment tides, as well as of the exalted narrative of cultural assimilation they contain, metaphorically mark the emotional stages of Antin's immigrant pilgrimage to the New Canaan and New Jerusalem and the consequent spiritual revelation and salvation implied by the success of the transatlantic journey, in tune with the historical North American Calvinist and Evangelical rhetorical tradition. No Torahic hints, allusions, or even innuendos appear in Antin's narrative. On the other hand, the narrating "I" propensity for the Evangelical highlighting of her immigrant experience appears in the archival evidence of the authorial pre-writing process. In her correspondence with Ellery Sedgwick, Antin strived "to find a phrase that directly, in a word, tells what America does for the immigrant" (Salz 2000, 55) and proposed a number of collective Atlantic Monthly installment titles that she, however, was not completely satisfied with, among which there was "The Heir of the Ages." She used this biblical phrase of evangelical inspiration and made reference to it repeatedly in The Promised Land: "The heir of the ages am I, and all that has been is in me, and shall continue to be in my immortal self" (Antin 1912b, 351). It is reiterated implicitly at the very end of the book, in chapter 20, "The Heritage":
America is the youngest of the nations, and inherits all that went
before in history. And I am the youngest of America's children, and
into my hands is given all her priceless heritage, to the last white
star espied through the telescope, to the last great thought of the
philosopher. Mine is the whole majestic past, and mine is the shining
future. (Antin 1912b, 364)


In both cases the usage seems to have been inspired by the topical exceptionalist Evangelical New Brahmin tradition: she sees herself, when she consumes pork for the first time or welcomes her new life in the New Canaan, as a redeemed new-born universal and/or American inheritor of mankind's, respectively New World's, past.

In the end, the installments will be published without a collective title. The only editorial information the Atlantic Monthly reader received about Antin's serialized self-narrative consisted in the two anonymous notices at the end of Installment I and the beginning of Installment II. The first one announced that "In the November issue Mary Antin will begin the story of her own life" (Antin 1911, 453), presenting culturally native Polotzk and the brief history of her parents' marriage. The second notice summarized, somewhat patronizingly and inexactly, the previous installment as describing "the mediaeval life within the Pale of the Russian city where she was born. She told of the student who was to be her father, and of the training which was to make a learned Rabbi of him" (Antin 1911, 593).

Even if Mary Antin did not peruse Jonathan Edwards's, George Whitefield's, and John Wesley's foundational works in Dr. Hale's library, entirely at her disposal during her empathetic habituation of his house and circle, she may have absorbed the evangelical ideas, symbolism, and rhetoric of the favorite authors, whose books, imbued with Protestant ideology, she confessed to have consumed during her teenage visits to the Boston Public Library. The narrating /s nostalgically ironic tone when commenting upon the Sunday School books does not eliminate the possibility of the unacknowledged formative influence of these texts on her fifteen years younger "narrated" self-consciousness:
What books did I read so diligently? Pretty nearly everything that came
to my hand. I dare say the librarian helped me select my books, but,
curiously enough, I do not remember. Something must have directed me,
for I read a great many of the books that are written for children. Of
these I remember with the greatest delight Louisa Alcott's stories. A
less attractive series of books was of the Sunday School type. In
volume after volume a very naughty little girl by the name of Lulu was
always going into tempers, that her father might have opportunity to
lecture her and point to her angelic little sister, Gracie, as an
example of what she should be; after which they all felt better and
prayed. Next to Louisa Alcott's books in my esteem were boys' books of
adventure, many of them by Horatio Alger; and I read all, I suppose, of
the Rollo books, by Jacob Abbott. (Antin 1912b, 257; 1912a, 216-17)


Alongside a self-mocking remark about her vain reaction when a neighbor finds out from a library advertising about her authorship of "Malinke's Atonement,"" Antin acknowledges, in a letter to Ellery Sedgwick, even if ironically, the propaganda aspects of her autobiographical-fictional productions: "A neighbor of mine saw 'Malinke' very attractively advertised in the public Library. Being acquainted with my brother's name, he promptly charged me with the authorship; whereupon underneath my blushes, I felt a distinct stirring of gratified vanity. So much for my noble missionary motives!" (Salz 2000, 61-62).

What exactly did this missionary role that Antin self-deprecatingly assumed consist in? Various texts she authored approach, in more or less direct terms, this topic. In her previous correspondence with Ellery Sedgwick she provides clues as to her motivations for writing her autobiography: "I can never know, just what my Malinke or Rosele look like in your eyes, no matter how fully you express yourself: but what you [i.e., Sedgwick] and others have said does give me some idea of the figures my poor Jewish people make when standing detached from their overwhelming history, in the sight of a world that knows them but little" (Salz 2000, 50). The assumed incentive seems to consist in informing the Gentile world about the genuine nature of Jewish suffering in the Pale. However, America was not the only readership target. The large universal scope of Antin's production was soon confirmed and reiterated in more sentimental terms: "I am not aiming at the pages of The Atlantic Monthly. I am aiming, if you [i.e. Sedgwick] must know, at the heart of the world" (Salz 2000, 51). Other times she is even more specific: "It is easy to pick out passages not essential to the story, but besides the story there is a picture I am trying to make, and a lesson I want to teach....I am not satisfied with the titles above suggested. I want to find a phrase that direcdy, in a word, tells what America does for the immigrant" (Salz 2000, 55). The brunt of her errand also appears to be to defeat anti-Semitism through artistic craft: "Anybody who is going to put in a plea for the Jew needs to choose his words most carefully" (Salz 2000, 57).

In "Word to My Fellow Citizens," an essay that exists as a handwritten document in the Ellery Sedgwick Papers collection at the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, Mary Antin proclaims:
I am one whose life has spanned the eddies of historic transitions. I
can testify to things beyond memory. Born in the mediaeval atmosphere
of the darkest corner of Russia, I early fled from the scourge of
despotism and took shelter under the American flag. I brought nothing
with me but my memories of an old order of things, and the great hunger
for the bread of freedom. How I was fed, and taught and
helped--uplifted,till the scars of my early martyrdom were effaced; how
the democratic institutions of America carried me in a decade over
several centuries of progress--that is the story of my life. To love
your country understandingly you should know what I have been and what
I have become. In the book of my life is written the measure of your
country's growth, and an answer to your doubts. (Ellery Sedgwick
Papers, Ms N-854)


The task Antin declared to have undertaken as an autobiographer was to make the American reader a more informed, and thus a more accomplished, patriot by comparing the political rights of his country with their total lack in czarist Russia. Her mission, in this case, was that of a historical and ideological messenger. The manuscript starts with an indirectly complimentary statement addressed to the foundational abolitionist principles of The Atlantic Monthly, in whose pages the author intended to publish her serial, as well as with a Progressive assertion:
The makers of history are not always heroes. Had there not been a
million slaves in the cotton fields, there had been no Lincoln and no
Civil War. History should be a compilation of the humblest biographies,
because the life of the multitude is the index of a nation's worth.
History should be a compilation of the humblest biographies, because
the life of the multitudes is the index of a notorious worth. (Ellery
Sedgwick Papers, Ms N-854)


The avant la lettre new historicist character of the message may surprise contemporary readers. At the time, however, Antin thus presented herself publicly not as the Jewish American writer in the making that she was, or even as a messenger and cultural translator of foreign lore as she did in The Promised Land, but as a modern mainstream American supporter of the Progressive movement. She suggested a personal continuity with famous Atlantic Monthly preceding contributors. Further on in the document, Antin testifies to her pledge of patriotic fidelity to the "American flag" under which she could allay her "hunger" for "the bread of freedom," "fed, and taught, and uplifted" by "the democratic institutions of America" (Ellery Sedgwick Papers, Ms N-854).

"Word to my Fellow Citizens" has never been published, but revised fragments appeared in the contemporary media, as publishers' advertising presentations of The Promised Land. These included exceptionalist propaganda stereotypes, promoted by Antin herself or the publishers and editors in order to launch the book in an age of Nativism. The ad promoted by The Evening World read: "Mary Antin, born a Russian Jewess, lives what persons with Colonial ancestors think on Thanksgiving Day and the Fourth of July, perhaps. To Mary Antin American freedom, American equality, are definite tangible glories three hundred and sixty-five days out of every year and an extra day in leap year" (Marshall 1914, 8). The Sun quotes Mary Antin saying "I wanted people to know just what this country means to such as I was. They have read it and they have seemed to grasp my meaning surprisingly well" (The Sun 1912, 12); whereas The Sunday News iterates: "I early fled from the scourge of despotism and took shelter under the American flag. I took with me a great hunger for the bread of freedom....how the democratic institutions of America carried me in a decade through as many centuries of progress--that is the story of my life....In the book of my life is written the measure of your country's growth and an answer to your doubts....It is instructive" {Sunday News 1912, 15).

Additional authorial explanations provided by Mary Antin with regard to the production of her autobiography may be found in the essay "How I Wrote The Promised Land," published in the New York Times soon after the publication of the book. Antin describes the writing process as a natural memory revival process, and almost automatic recording, in stages:
The answer is that in the fullness of time it [the book] wrote itself.
I seldom meet anybody who is willing to believe this statement, but I
can only go on repeating it, since it is the truth....The inner impulse
came at last--born, to be sure, of certain outer circumstances--and
that was when my early experiences marked themselves off from what came
after, as the foundation may stand out from the superstructure. When
the foundation was in place, I was ready to take account of the blocks
that composed it, but not before.... One day I found myself thinking of
the time I went to school in Polotzk, and I wrote about that. Another
day I kept seeing the litde girls I used to play with and I put them
in. Then it was the market-place that haunted me, or the Dvina gurgled
in my ears all night, or there came into my mind a tale the women used
to tell while picking feathers of a Winter evening. I put these things
down just as they came, and so grew the book. (Antin 1912c, 392)


The lively, almost physical, remembering activity appears as a means to recapture and keep tabs on the evolutionary stages of the writer's identity. However, no pro-Semitic or humanist proselytizing catalyst is disclosed. The diarist appears to have reminisced about her Pale past stimulated by spontaneous outbursts of memory, a natural process of identity recovery. However, in the same interview, Antin offers ideological explanations for the production of her memoir when she declares: "I wanted people to know just what this country means to such as I was. They have read it and they have seemed to grasp my meaning surprisingly well" (Antin 1912c, 392). This gloss on Antin's mission reads: I wrote this book for Gentile America to understand why they need to welcome Eastern Europe Jews' immigration. The essay closes with a quotation from chapter 5 of The Promised Land, which reiterates her missionary task:
Should I be sitting here, chattering of my infantile adventures, if I
did not know that I was speaking for thousands? Should you be sitting
there, attending to my chatter, while the world's work waits, if you
did not know that I spoke also for you? I might say "you" or "he"
instead of "I."...We love to read the lives of the great, yet what a
broken history of mankind they give, unless supplemented by the lives
of the humble. But while the great can speak for themselves, or by the
tongues of their admirers, the humble are apt to live inarticulate and
the unheard. It is well that now and then one is born among the simple
with a taste for self-revelation. The man or woman thus endowed must
speak, will speak, though there are only the grasses in the field to
hear, and none but the wind to carry the tale. (Antin 1912b, 87-88;
1912c, 392)


This fragment reveals another purpose of the author's endeavor: she is the messenger of the Pale life and people, a reality the reader cannot reach and comprehend otherwise. Antin presents herself as the cultural communicator and historian eager to document, preserve and convey information that might otherwise be lost. The Progressive, evangelically inspired, component of the message is also present: she is the emissary of "the humble." The existential identity penchant is not missing either, as illustrated by "a taste for self-revelation." Such multiple motivations have brought the lyrical autobiography into being. Her extensive and intensive national lecturing tours, started after the publication of The Promised Land, will underscore her activism even more.

The Protestant theme of conversion as revival is announced from the very first paragraph of the Introduction to The Promised Land (Antin 1912b, xi). A rereading of this paragraph in an evangelical revivalist key reveals the author's focus on its affective deixis, a quality ascribed to the historical American "awakening" tradition by Robert H. Krapohl and Charles H. Lippy, marked by the "centrality of personal experience and affective or emotional expression" (Krapohl and Lippy 1999, 18). Antin's introductory statement is foundational and constitutive for her existential experience in the United States, interpreted primarily as a chance for spiritual resurgence. This sublimated form of mainstream evangelicalism is buttressed further, both in Antin's second installment from The Atlantic Monthly and in the book, by a quite explicit religious acknowledgment of her series of spiritually awakening experiences in America:
We are not born all at once, but by bits. The body first and the spirit
later; and the birth and growth of the spirit, in those who are
attentive to their own inner life, are slow and exceedingly painful.
Our mothers are racked with the pains of our physical birth; we
ourselves suffer the longer pains of our spiritual growth. Our souls
are scarred with the struggles of successive births, and the process is
recorded also by the wrinkles in our brains, by the lines in our faces.
Look at me and you will see that I have been born many times. And my
first self-birth happened, as I have told, that spring day of my early
springs. Therefore, would I plant a rose on the green bank of the
Polota, there to bloom in token of eternal life. Eternal, divine life.
(Antin 1911, 602; 1912b, 87)


This phased spiritual revival, which defines particular instances of human experience, mirrors George Whitefield's and Jonathan Edwards's Awakening sermons.

Antin's genteel evangelical education started early in the middle-class Boston Latin School for Girls. It continued at the Hale House, which was conceived and organized in the spirit of liberal evangelicalism, and then at Columbia's Teachers College (1901-1902) and Barnard College (1902-1904). The religious influence of her teenage education in Hale House, coming directly from Reverend Edward Everett Hale whom she greatly admired, marked her spiritual evolution (Antin 1912a, 518-21; 1912b, 323-26, 344-46). (12) The educational activities the Unitarian reverend (13) organized at the Hale House, enthusiastically joined by the author and her brother Joseph (Antin 1912b, 374-76), i" mplied getting in contact with principles that American Evangelicalism, in its "modernistversion,' (14) emanated in the social public space and prepared for the emergence of the Progressive doctrine: "the abolition of slavery, suffrage, temperance, child labor laws, fair wages for workers" (George 2007, 279).

Later in her life, as a writer of fiction, memoir pieces and essays, Antin became an almost regular contributor to The Atlantic Monthly. The correspondence between her and Ellery Sedgwick reveals aspects of this gentle and Gentile Americanization process that shaped, in part, the text of the autobiographical installments. When discussing the ideological background components of the magazine, Ellery Sedgwick III pointed out its genteel tradition ingredients brought by the "American cultural gentry" or "Brahmin class" to the literary magazine through their editorial work and contributions (Sedgwick III 1984, 49-67). The genteel idealists perceived the immigrant with Christian sympathy that materialized in cultural evangelical education. They "retained the Victorian faith in the capacity of their superior culture to assimilate the newcomers. The attempt to Americanize' the immigrant by indoctrinating him in the ethical, social and political ideals traditionally professed in the United States was one of the last great waves of Victorian cultural evangelism" (Sedgwick III 1987, 54-55). Antin's autobiographical texts are imbued with elements of this ideology as illustrated above.

However, Antin's Evangelicalism was not denominational, and her Progressivism did not consist in the active adherence to a specific political or social group. Mary Antin did not convert from Judaism to Protestantism, specifically American Evangelicalism and did not, explicitly, by concrete activism, adhere to Progressivism, beyond the specifically emotional, literary rhetoric of her correspondence with Theodore Roosevelt, and her pro-immigration or electoral lectures and pamphlets (Antin 1917, 5). Her conversion, generated by enthusiastic and almost numinous assimilationism, was strictly from minority ethnic to mainstream national. The spiritual absorption of Evangelicalism and Progressivism was conditioned by her socially and economically motivated conversion to mainstream America. The two ideologies penetrated her adjustment mentality through the conduit of the turn of the century American civic ideology.

NOTES

This paper would not have been possible without the kind support granted by the Massachusetts Historical Society Library's assistance in obtaining Ellery Sedgwick and Mary Antin's unpublished correspondence as well as the handwritten manuscript of Mary Antin's "Word to My Fellow Citizens." My gratitude goes to Tracy Potter, Reference Librarian. The manuscripts are located in the Ellery Sedgwick Papers. MS. Carton 2SH 117 KV, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.

(1.) From Plotzk to Boston (Boston: Clarke, 1899); "Malinke's Atonement," Atlantic Monthly 108 (September 1911): 300-319.

(2.) Steven G. Kellman, "Lost in the Promised Land: Eva Hoffman Revises Mary Antin," Prooftexts 18(2), Jewish-American Autobiography, Part 1 (May 1998): 149-59; Michael P. Kramer, "Assimilation in The Promised Land: Mary Antin and the Jewish Origins of the American Self," Prooftexts 18 (1998): 121-48; Keren McGinity, "The Real Mary Antin: Woman on a Mission in the Promised Land," American Jewish History 86, no. 3 (September 1998): 285-307; Susanne A. Shavelson, "Anxieties of Authorship in the Autobiographies of Mary Antin and Aliza Greenblatt," Prooftetxts 18 (1998): 161-86; Sean Butler "'Both Joined and Separate': English, Mary Antin, and the Rhetoric of Identification," MELUS 27(1) (Spring 2002): 53-82; Hana Wirth-Nesher, Call It English: The Languages of Jewish American Literature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006); Jules Chametzky, "Rethinking Mary Antin and The Promised Land" in Modern Jewish Women in America, ed. Evelyn Avery, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 17-28.; Nancy K. Miller, "I Killed My Grandmother: Mary Antin, Amos Oz, and the Autobiography of a Name," Biography 30(3) (Summer 2007): 319-41; Lori Jirousek, "Mary Antin's Progressive Science: Eugenics, Evolution, and the Environment," Shofar 27(1) (Fall 2008): 58-79; Amy E. Dayton-Wood, "The Limits of Language: Literacy, Morality, and Transformation in Mary Antin's The Promised Land," MELUS 34(4) (Winter 2009): 81-98; Martin Brick, "Innocenting the Immigrant Experience: Photographs in Mary Antin's The Promised Land," The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association 43(1) (Spring 2010): 1-15; Maria Karafilis, "The Jewish Ghetto and the Americanization of Space in Mary Antin and Her Contemporaries," American Literary Realism 42(2) (Winter 2010): 129-50; Jolie A. Sheffer, "Recollecting, Repeating, and Walking Through: Immigration, Trauma, and Space in Mary Antin's The Promised Land" MELUS 35(1) (Spring 2010): 141-202; Sarah Sillin, "Heroine, Reformer, Citizen: Novelistic Conventions in Antin's The Promised Land" MELUS 38(3) (Fall 2013): 25-43; Sunny Yudkoff, "The Adolescent Self-Fashioning of Mary Antin," Studies in American Jewish Literature 32(1) (Spring 2013): 4-35.

(3.) A detailed overview may be found in Mihai Mindra, "From Shtetl to the Hub: Mary Antin's Networking Palimpsest," in Intercontinental Cross-Currents: Women's Networks across Europe and the Americas, ed. Julia Nitz, Sandra H. Petrulionis, Theresa Schon (Heidelberg: Universitat Heidelberg, 2016), 33-39.

(4.) The "narrating T is "the T available to the readers [...] who tells the autobiographical narrative. [...] This is a persona of the historical person who wants to tell, or is coerced into telling the story about the self." The "narrating 'I'" refers strictly to the narrative he/she tells, as compared to the real lifetime extended historical "I." The "narrated T is the object 'I,' the protagonist of the narrative, the version of the self that the narrating T chooses to reconstitute through recollection for the reader" (Smith and Watson 2010, 72-73).

(5.) Her contemporary co-ethnic immigrant to America from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Edward A. Steiner, will openly, after a lengthy soul-searching period, convert to Protestantism for an existential spiritual reason (Edward Steiner, From Alien to Citizen: The Story of My Life in America [New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1914], 209-19). Antin replaced conversion with assimilationism.

(6.) Since its inception in 1857, The Atlantic Monthly, with James Russell Lowell as its first editor, encouraged realism in literary texts (Goodman 6). Although Sedgwick tried to compromise between classical literary genre and the new emerging prose and poetry (he published Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost later, not without reservations), he seemed to dislike "psychological fare" (Goodman 228) and Antin's "personal philosophy" went into this category, for her editor.

(7.) Yiddish for Hebrew rabi, English rabbi.

(8.) Variant of Hebrew rabbi.

(9.) An elementary Jewish school in which children are taught to read the Torah and other books in Hebrew.

(10.) George expounded the revivalist specificity of American Evangelicalism in Timothy George, "Evangelical Theology in North American Contexts," Evangelical Theology in North American Contexts, ed. Timothy Larsen and Daniel J. Treier (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 275-92. Although often mentioned in commentaries on Mary Antin's autobiographical book, the biblical denominations of the chapters were never connected to possible Protestant ideological influences.

(11.) Antin's short story published in The Atlantic Monthly in the September 1911 issue.

(12.) The Promised Land features a photo of Reverend Hale's desk; Antin's caption reads: "The famous study, that was fit to be preserved as a shrine" (Antin 1912b, 347). The religious connotation of "shrine" associates the Unitarian minister's study with Christian sainthood, the way the new Bostonian Mary may have perceived her mentor.

(13.) Although Reverend Hale was a Unitarian, traditionally the American "evangelical consensus was sufficiendy strong to spawn a host of interdenominational ministries, including orphanages, Bible societies, publication boards, colleges and academies, and above all, an evangelical missionary movement of global proportions" (George 2007, 278-79).

(14.) "'Modernism,' the name given to the impulse of accommodation on the part of those who sought to revise traditional Christian doctrines in the light of evolution, biblical criticism, and a more optimistic view of the human condition" (George 2007, 280).

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MIHAI MINDRA UNIVERSITY OF BUCHAREST

MIHAI MINDRA is Professor of American Literature with the University of Bucharest, Romania. A Brandeis University Fulbright fellow and John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies grantee, he is the author of of numerous studies on twentieth-century American literature, including previous work published in Studies in American Jewish Literature.
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Author:Mindra, Mihai
Publication:Studies in American Jewish Literature
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2018
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