History in Review
| Jewish Women in Fin de Sičle Vienna. By Alison Rose. Part of the Jewish History, Life and Culture series.(University of Texas Press, Austin: 2008. Pg. 314. 15 B&W Photos.) ISBN:
Reviewed by Simone Bonim - December 19, 2008
Jewish Women in Fin de Sičle Vienna is a comprehensive study of Jewish women, their lives and their roles, in late 19th century Vienna. For many of these women, their lives were destined to be cut short by the Nazi onslaught that was to take place a few decades later. However, at the time that this book is centered, that was an unknown and unimaginable fate that awaited. In writing this book, Alison Rose, an adjunct assistant Professor of History at the University of Rhode Island, has opened a window into an era that has for too long been overshadowed by the atrocities of the Holocaust.
Toward the end of the 19th Century and through the early years of the 20th Century, Vienna was a center of Jewish culture and there was an active and vibrant Viennese Jewish community. Although the focus of this book is Viennese Jewish women, within the scope of this book Rose also provides telling insights into the activities of the greater Viennese Jewish community, its relationships with Viennese society and politics, and into what everyday life was like for the Jews of Vienna.
Covering a period from approximately 1890-1914, this book looks at all aspects of women's lives, from their involvement in philanthropy, Zionism, and university life to literature, religious life, and cultural pursuits. Rose also looks at the role that antisemitism played in their lives, and how gender stereotypes and assimilation helped to shape their experiences. She also examines how the tumultuous political and social upheavals of the period impacted the lives of Viennese Jewish women. In addition, Rose has interspersed her text with extracts from diaries, memoirs, letters, and other written sources, that allows the women under study to speak for themselves. She also examines the lives of these women, and how they perceived themselves, from two unique, but interconnect angles - that of being women in general, and secondly from the viewpoint of their identity as Jewish women.
Jewish Women in Fin de Sičle Vienna was inspired, in part, by Carl Schorske's Fin de Sičle Vienna: Politics and Culture. I recommend that you also read Schorske's book along with Rose's, if you've not done so already, as it will provide you with a general overview of Viennese society, politics, and culture during this period. It also helps to put Rose's book into context with the period, especially if you are not already familiar with this period.
Jewish Women in Fin de Sičle Vienna is the definitive book on Jewish women in Fin de Sičle Vienna, and it is essential reading for anyone seriously interested in this understudied, yet significant, aspect of Jewish history. It will also be of value to historians interested in gender issues, women's studies, Austrian history, European Fin de Sičle history, and in simply learning about what life was like in pre-World War II Europe for Viennese Jews.
Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail, by Jeanne E. Abrams.
A History in the American West. This text chronicles the history of Jewish Women in the American West from the 1848 Gold Rush through the early 1900's.
Slum Travelers: Ladies and London Poverty, 1860-1920, Edited by Ellen Ross.
A selection of works by middle and upper class women who ventured into the London slums to engage in social and religious work.
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