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This interview is taken from PN Review 118, Volume 24 Number 2, November - December 1997.

in Conversation with Elaine Feinstein Michael Schmidt

During a visit to Manchester in June 1997, the poet, novelist, translator and biographer Elaine Feinstein was interviewed at the University by Michael Schmidt about her new collection Daylight.

MICHAEL SCHMIDT I want to talk to you first about origins. There is a strong Russian element obviously in your poetry, but there's also Russian blood in your veins, isn't there?

ELAINE FEINSTEIN Russian Jewish blood, I have to say. All four grandparents were Russian Jews, who came from Odessa. I know a bit about the grandfathers, and about one of the grandmothers. The grandfather on my father's side was well-read in Rabbinic literature, and had been trained at a Yeshiva in Odessa. He could also speak five languages, and write in most of them. But over here he worked in the wood trade. So did all his children, including one of my aunts. This was fortunate for my grandfather ; he was able to go off and study, while the rest of the family got on with the hard business of earning a living. As a result, my own father left school at twelve. My other grandfather was much sharper. He wasn't an intellectual, he was a glass merchant, but he made a great deal of money, so his sons went to university, two of them indeed to Cambridge.

Did his family remain Orthodox Jews?

Not in the least. My mother's brothers were socialists, and militantly atheist. ...


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