Understanding Cynthia Ozick is a critical survey of the work of an important contemporary American-Jewish writer. The book begins with an overview of the author's career and ideas. Succeding chapters are devoted to analyzing her novels and stories; many of her essays are employed to shed further light upon the ideas expressed in her fiction. Ozick's world view is that of a modern, sophisticated, American—but traditionally religious—Jew. Judaism is the dominant force in her work; and Jewish identity is her major theme. Understanding Cynthia Ozick focuses on the various ways in which Ozick's fiction fulfills her stated purpose: "to judge and interpret the world." Hers is a moral fiction written in English, but from a Jewish point of view that she once labeled "liturgical." A typical Ozick story finds contemporary American Jews beset by competing ideologies. They must opt for covenantal Judaism over whatever opposes it if they are to maintain or achieve authentic Jewish identity. Awareness of Jewish history, relationships, and culture are additional key aspects evoked in Ozick's work. Modernism, feminism, and the Holocaust are prominent among the many other topics treated by Ozick and discussed in Understanding Cynthia Ozick.
Lawrence S. Friedman reveived his B.A. from the University of Missouri in 1958, his M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1959, and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1965. A former Fulbright Lecturer in American Studies in Belgium (1968–1969), in Romania (1971–1972), and in Indonesia (1988–89), he also served as a visiting professor at Warsaw University in Poland from 1979–81. He is the author of Understanding Isaac Bashevis Singer and of articles on literature and film which have appeared in a variety of American and foreign journals.