"Who learns history from Heine?" : the German-Jewish historical novel as cultural memory and minority culture, 1824-1953 / Jonathan Samuel Skolnik.
Why do fictional histories flourish in the era of historicism? How does a minority reimagine its own history in the age of the modern nation? This study of the German-Jewish historical novel provides new material with which these questions might be answered. It investigates historical novels about Jewish history by Berthold Auerbach, Heinrich Heine, Lion Feuchtwanger and others in light of “minority” authors in nineteenth-century Germany whose works have largely been overlooked, drawing on Pierre Nora's concept of “lieu de mémoire” and Jan Assmann's work on cultural memory. Chapter One reads Auerbach's Spinoza (1837) as an intervention in the “crisis of secularization” facing modern Jewish culture. I analyze the text's Sephardic symbolism which becomes paradigmatic for German-Jewish cultural memory. Chapter Two interprets Heine's fragment Der Rabbi von Bacherach (1824–40) as part of on ongoing dialogue with the founders of Wissenschaft des Judentums. Chapter Three explores the Jewish minority public sphere in nineteenth-century Germany, reading novels by Markus Lehmann, Phöbus and Ludwig Philippson, and Hermam Reckendorf, works which appeared with small Jewish presses or serialized in newspapers like the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums. These minority novels reinvented politics, culture, and gender/family roles for an age of integration and embourgeoisement, constructing Jewish historical fiction though intertextual references to the historical dramas of Goethe and Schiller and Lessing's bürgerliches Trauerspiel. This chapter also studies the reception of minority culture in literary histories, reviews, and memoirs. Chapter Four reads Else Lasker-Schüler's enigmatic prose work Der Wunderrabbiner von Barcelona as a modernist revision of nineteenth-century German-Jewish historical fiction. My analysis challenges Deleuze and Guattari's notion of “minor literature,” arguing that Lasker-Schüler's text refutes their claims regarding the politics of the modernist symbol. Chapter Five investigates works by Feuchtwanger, Hermann Kesten, and Hermann Sinsheimer, who revived the traditions of German-Jewish minority culture in response to exile and ghettoization in the 1930s. My epilogue discusses the fate of the German-Jewish historical novel in Hebrew translation and interprets Leo Perutz's post-Holocaust novel Nachts unter der steinernen Brücke (1953).
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