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Hispanic women: Making their presence on campus less tenuous (Project on the status and education of women)
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Top Customer Reviews
We should remember that before the movie, there was the stage play. It followed the book pretty closely, (which the movie did not!) and was very popular in lesbian and avant garde theaters. When I saw the play performed in the 1970s, Yentl was played as the Jewish version of a "butch" lesbian. (In terms of social roles, not machismo. The ideal Jewish male in the timeframe of this story was a scholar, not a redneck.) In the play, like in the book, Yentl remains living as the man Anshel in Eastern Europe. In the movie, Streisand changed this very important point and had Yentl revert to wearing women's clothes and then going to America.
So nu, what was the relationship between Yentl/Anshel and Avigdor? They were study partners -- chaverim in Hebrew -- a relationship that doesn't seem to exist outside of the Orthodox Jewish community, so here's some background. The Talmud is written in dialogue mode with different rabbis agreeing and disagreeing on various points of Jewish law and theology. Talmud is traditionally studied out loud, by two people hotly debating, going point-by-point over the discussions on the page together. In the traditional yeshiva world -- even today -- the schools are not co-ed. So naturally, your study partner is going to be the same sex as yourself. And very often, your study partner is also your very best friend.Read more ›
The story is not only a moving tale of the bind a Jewish woman of late 19th or early 20th century Poland puts herself into in order to fulfill her need to study and learn, but a rich portrayal of both the joys and strictures of that society that is now gone (as are so many of Singer's stories). It helps to know something of Judaism to understand many of the references in the story but it is not critical to the reader's empathy with Yentl/Anshel's position.
And yes, the character as portrayed in the book is undoubtedly portrayed as what we would now call transgendered. It is not simply that Yentl wants to study Torah, because if that were the case she could marry Avigdor and continue to study with him; Avigdor offers her this option. She herself says she is not one or the other. I also love Singer's implied explanation for transgender identity as being that of a soul of one sex incarnated in the body of the other. It makes a deep kind of sense to me in both a spiritual and experiential way, and adds another dimension to this story.
This book is very short, really a novella, and is illustrated with interesting woodcuts that portray both moments from the story, and various Jewish ritual objects like spice boxes and the pointers used to read Torah scrolls. Do seek this book and other works of Singer's out, you won't regret it!
The reviewer here who said that another reviewer "should be shot" (such violent intolerance!) for claiming that Yentl was transgender by making a reference to "even heaven makes mistakes" obviously did not read the book -- because that's word-for-word what Yentl's father tells her on page 8. The story also clearly states that Yentl has "the soul of a man." (page 8 also). So, I suggest ignoring those PC polemicists who are talking about the movie only, which is VERY DIFFERENT from the book, and has ITS OWN PAGE for reviews! (If you haven't read the book, why are you reviewing here in the first place?)
Singer was writing in the 1960s. He wrote respectfully of Jewish culture in this story. He did not mock it the way Streisand later did in her movie. The book has no barkers shouting "Story books for women, holy books for men," and as far as I know, nobody even did that in real life. The line is anti-Hasidic propaganda, as is much of the movie. Streisand's film is a comedy. Singer's story is serious drama.
In the book, When Yentl says, "I wasn't created for plucking feathers and chattering with females," (page 47) is she really speaking like a radical 20th-century feminist about social roles -- or is she speaking literally, on a mystical spiritual level?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you loved the movie, read the original story. It is somewhat different, and maybe more
This is such a wonderful book, in both story told and in the aesthetic making of the physical book. A delight, depth for thought, and an inspiration. Read morePublished 7 months ago by LadyLake
Nice book. Happy to finally be able to read the story that inspired the film of the same name.Published 14 months ago by Fran
Years ago when the movie first aired, I loved Ms. Steisand's movie so much because i identified with Yentl ---- how she loved and wanted G_d so much that she would fight anyone and... Read morePublished on November 18, 2013 by crushed ember
The IBS short story (but not the movie) certainly IS about a transsexual. Tha character, Yentle/Anshel, is a woman who wants to be a man, and the study of Talmud is a major part... Read morePublished on December 29, 2004 by Marduk and Ishtar
The movie does attack the issues of feminism - albeit somewhat unrealistically. Yes, as one reviewer put, there are many restrictions on Chasidic women (and men! Read morePublished on November 10, 2004 by Chakram
This movie and book is not about lesbian or transexual. Rather how women were treated in Judiasm. More about feminism. Read morePublished on October 26, 2003 by susan curtis
As I said, I haven't read the book. However, I saw the movie and knew nothing of what the book version had to say. Read morePublished on June 4, 2002 by bunny