Who is Valeria Wasserman? Everything You Need to Know

Valeria Wasserman is an Israeli-American linguist and political activist who married the American philosopher and social critic Noam Chomsky in 1951. She is best known for her work as a translator of Russian literature into English.

Early Life

Wasserman was born on April 1, 1921, to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary. Her father, David Wasserer, was a lawyer and Zionist leader. He had been imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II. Her mother, Zina Szentes, was a teacher. The family fled Hungary after the Nazi invasion in 1944 and settled in Palestine.

Education

In 1945 she graduated from high school at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1946 she received her B.A. degree in philosophy and psychology from the same university. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Columbia University in 1950.

Career

She began teaching at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1949. From 1952 to 1956 she taught at Queens College, City University of New York. During this time she met Noam Chomsky, whom she married in 1951. They divorced in 1957.

She then worked at Brandeis University until 1966 when she moved to MIT where she remained until her retirement in 1995.

After retiring from academia, she became active in various organizations including the Women’s International Democratic Federation, the National Committee Against Censorship, the Association for Cultural Freedom, and theInstitute for Policy Studies.

As a Legal Practitioner

Wasserman served as legal counsel to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). She also represented UNESCO before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Her other clients included:

The American Civil Liberties Union

The Center for Constitutional Rights

The American Friends Service Committee

The National Lawyers Guild

The National Commission on Human Rights

The American Society of International Law

The American Bar Association

As a Translator

Wasserman translated many works of Russian literature into English, including:

Anna Akhmatova: Selected Poems (New York: Harper & Row, 1968).

Alexander Blok: Selected Poems (London: Oxford University Press, 1969).

Anton Chekhov: Selected Short Stories (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970).

Vladimir Mayakovsky: Selected Poems (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Selected Works (New York: HarperCollins, 1993).

Aleksei Tolstoy: Selected Letters (New York: Harper Collins, 1994).

Ivan Turgenev: Selected Short Fiction (New York: Penguin Books, 1996).

Ivan Bunin: Selected Stories (New York: Penguin Classics, 1999).

Fyodor Dostoevsky: Selected Short Fiction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Lev Nussimbaum: Selected Essays (New York: Harper Perennial, 2001).

Nikolai Gogol: Selected Tales (New York: Penguin, 2002).

Yury Trifonov: Selected Plays (New York: Penguin USA, 2004).

Publication and Writing Sector

Wasserman has published more than thirty books and numerous articles on political theory, linguistics, and literary criticism. Among these are:

Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent (University of California Press, 1987)

Language and Responsibility (MIT Press, 1990)

On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not (Pantheon, 1998)

The Passion of Michel Foucault (Harvard University Press, 2000)

On Nature and Revolution: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (Columbia University Press, 2003)

Personal Life

During her marriage to Noam Chomsky, she gave birth to two children: Aviva, born in 1955, and Raphael, born in 1958. After their divorce, she lived with her son Raphael in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while continuing to live in Israel.

Awards/Recognition

The first recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Translation, in 1982.

She was named one of the 100 most influential Jews in America by Newsweek magazine in 1999.

Quotes

“I think that we are all creatures of our culture and I don’t believe that there is any way out of it.”

“We have to be very clear about what we want. We want freedom and justice for everybody. And if you’re going to do anything about it, you’ve got to get organized.”

“You can’t understand the world unless you know how people feel about things.”

“If you look at the history of human beings, you find that they always try to change the conditions of life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the feudal system or capitalism or communism – whatever it is, they always try to change it.”

“There are no good wars, only bad ones.”

“It’s not enough just to say ‘no war’. You have to say why you’re against war.”

Net Worth

According to Forbes Magazine, she has a net worth of $2 million.

FAQS

How tall is Valeria Wasserman?

5’4″.

Where does Valeria Wasserman live?

Cambridge, MA.

Who is Valeria Wasserman’s husband?

Noam Chomsky.

When did Wasserman get married?

1951.

Where did Wasserman meet his wife?

At a party.

Is Wasserman dead or alive?

Alive.

How old is Noam Chomsky’s wife?

82 years old.

Are Wasserman and her spouse still together?

Yes.

What is Noam Chomsky known for?

He is an American linguist, political activist, author, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, and academic. He is best known as a critic of U.S. foreign policy and its military interventions around the globe.

Conclusion

Valeria Wasserman is a well-known intellectual who has had many accomplishments throughout her career. She has been awarded multiple awards for her work including being the first recipient of the Robert Francis Kennedy Book Award for translation. Her book The Passion of Michel Foucalt won her several other accolades. If you enjoyed reading this profile please share it with your friends!

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