The 'Jewish Question' in German Literature, 1749-1939: Emancipation and Its Discontents

Synopsis

The Jewish Question in German Literature, 1749-1939 is an erudite and searching literary study of the uneasy position of the Jews in Germany and Austria from the first pleas for Jewish emancipation during the Enlightenment to the eve of the Holocaust. Trying to avoid hindsight, and drawing on a wide range of literary texts, Ritchie Robertson offers a close examination of attempts to construct a Jewish identity suitable for an increasingly secular world. He examines both literary portrayals of Jews by Gentile writers - whether antisemitic, friendly, or ambivalent - and efforts to reinvent Jewish identities by the Jews themselves, in response to antisemitism culminating in Zionism. No other study by a single author deals with German-Jewish relations so comprehensively and over such a long period of literary history. Robertson's new work will prove stimulating for anyone interested in the modern Jewish experience, as well as for scholars and students of German fiction, prose, and political culture.

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