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Available June 2015
Bambi's Jewish Roots and Other Essays on German-Jewish Cultureby Paul Reitter
Synopses & Reviews
German Jewry. Among other things—or rather, above all—the term evokes creativity and destruction. Bambi's Jewish Roots: Essays on the Makers and Destroyers of German-Jewish Culture is about both sides of that dichotomy, and also the links between them. It is about the German Jews—such as Heine, Freud, and Kafka—whose accomplishments have played such a significant role in shaping our modern sensibilities. And it is about the figures and forces—e.g., Hitler, Jew hatred, and racism—that effectively wiped out the Jewish presence in Germany.
Bambi's Jewish Roots is also about how the pressures generated by anti-Semitism and the experience of exile helped at a terrible price to drive German Jewry to its intellectual successes. Finally, Reitter reflects on attempts to tell the stories of these makers and destroyers, and the cultural dynamics in which they were enmeshed. Indeed, in large part that, too, is the subject of these reflections—the act of writing about the life and the demise of German Jewry.
An illuminating account of the life and demise of German Jewry.
Paul Reitter's scholarship on German-Jewish culture has won acclaim in both specialized journals and forums like the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, Bookforum, and the TLS, which named his study of Karl Kraus one of the best books of 2008. Writing for such publications as The Nation, Harper's Magazine, and the Jewish Review of Books, Reitter has also produced essays that address topics related to his expertise but written for a wider audience, earning a reputation for being a witty, erudite, and deeply illuminating critic in the popular intellectual arena. Bambi's Jewish Roots brings together the best of his essayistic work, which take on an array of figures and concerns, from the contradictions in Heinrich Heine's self-understanding to the echoes of Zionism in Felix Salten's novel Bambi.
About the Author
Paul Reitter is Associate Professor in German Languages and Literatures at Ohio State University, USA. He is the author of The Anti-Journalist: Karl Kraus and Jewish Self-Fashioning in Fin-de-Siecle Europe (2008), which was named in The Times Literary Supplement as one of the best books of 2008, and On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred (2012). He has contributed essays and reviews to Harper's Magazine and The Nation, and collaborated with Jonathan Franzen on The Kraus Project: Essays by Karl Kraus (2013).
Table of Contents
Introduction: German-Jewish Culture as a Mirror of Modernity
I. German Jews
1. Beyond Assimilation
2. Local Flavors
3. Total Polemic
4. Fear and Self-Loathing in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna
5. Irrational Man: Gershom Scholem's Decisive Years
III. Biographing Genius
6. Kafka's New Life
7. The Wittgensteins' House of Pain
IV. Beyond the Canon
8. The High Stakes of Middlebrow Literature
9. Theodor Lessing and the Art of Writing Popular Psychology for German Jews
IV. Creativity and Destruction
10. Hofmannsthal's Austria
11. Ranter's Paradise
12. Becoming Hitler
13. Re-Reading Freud's Moses (Again)
14. Auerbach in Exile
15. On the Genealogy of German Racism
16. Holocaust Imponderables
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