I Lift My Lamp: Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty

I Lift My Lamp: Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty

by Nancy Smiler Levinson

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The parallel stories of Bartholdi's worldly quest and Emma Lazarus's sheltered upbringing work engagingly well together. As a descendant of the first Jews to reach New Amsterdam in 1654, Lazarus was far from an immigrant. Related to Benjamin Cardozo and other luminaries, she grew up in a prominent family and met many of the important figures of the mid-1800s. Nevertheless, she was fragile, overprotectively dominated by her father. Readers may be surprised to learn that ``the New Colossus'' first appeared in a fund-raising portfolio and didn't gain its true significance until after Lazarus's death. The historical times are nicely delineated, particularly Lazarus's inferior treatment as a woman, and the author's deft interspersal of Lazarus's poems clearly shows her unfolding development as a sensitive Jewish spokesperson. Like the statue, this book is stirring. A fine addition to the Jewish biography series. (10-14)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6 Emma Lazarus, born to a wealthy New York City family in 1849, led a sheltered life, growing up unaware of the ``huddled messes yearning to breathe free'' whom she was to immortalize in her sonnet ``The New Colossus,'' an excerpt from which is engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Young Emma was encouraged in her writing by Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom her parents knew. When she started to work at helping newly arrived immigrants at New York's Ward Island and Castle Garden (before Ellis Island was used), her eyes were opened to the suffering and cruelty which drove people to leave Europe's oppression and anti-Semitism for a new land. Interspersed with Emma's story is the story of the building of the Statue of Liberty. The technique of paralleling Emma's life and the statue's history make this more than a biography and more than a story of the statue. Levinson's style is factual, and she packs a lot of information into the book, using original sources. Merriam's Voice of Liberty: the Story of Emma Lazarus (Farrar, 1959; o.p.) is more fictionalized. A good purchase for school and public libraries, especially in this centennial year of the Statue of Liberty. Ruth Shire, Mount Vernon Public Library, N.Y.

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Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Jewish Biography Ser.
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
1.00(w) x 1.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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