She was born October 10, 1943
in New York City, during World War II, to two refugees in their thirties who had arrived in America barely two years before and who would not become naturalized citizens for another four years.
At first they spoke to her in Polish so that their child would speak their language. But she was the first child born to a circle of friends, all recent refugees, from all over Europe. There was, as my mother put it, a “revolution” among these friends, who protested that they wanted to be able to communicate to this first child. So they spoke to her in French, which they spoke well though with a marked Eastern European accent . I assume that at that time in 1943, 1944, their English was not very good. Her first words were in French: she asked our friend Nadia Temerson, who, while feeding her, was taking little bites of food to encourage her to eat, “c’est bon, Nadia?”
Here are some of her many books and articles that are of continued interest, both for her original theoretical insights, her perceptive and nuanced writing style, and also, as traces of the theoretical and linguistics styles that mark developments not just in her work but in the fields within which she worked, from French Literature to Feminist Theory to Gender Politics to Aesthetics. Continue reading