By Jonathan Freedman
From the start of recent highbrow heritage to the tradition wars of the current day, the adventure of assimilating Jews and the idiom of "culture" were essentially intertwined with one another. Freedman's publication starts through taking a look at photos of the stereotypical Jew within the literary tradition of 19th- and twentieth-century England and the US, after which considers the efforts at the a part of Jewish critics and intellectuals to counter this picture within the public sphere. It explores the unforeseen parallels and ironic reversals among a cultural dispensation that had ambivalent responses to Jews and Jews who turned exponents of that very culture.
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Extra resources for The Temple of Culture: Assimilation & Anti-Semitism in Literary Anglo-America
That terrain, I have been implicitly arguing, was carved out in the late Victorian cultural sphere, which was a period marked by the rise of a mass-culture industry and a consequent crisis of selfrepresentation for high-cultural writers and poets; a period that saw the construction of ‘‘culture’’ as a secularized religious faith that might, its adherents hoped, forestall class conﬂict; an era that witnessed the creation of new professional identities and career paths: the modern author, whether of bestsellers, or of audience-challenging high-art hermeneutic puzzles; the intellectual, whether alienated or hegemonic or even both; the literary academic.
When Annie Hall tells Alvy Singer that he is what Grammy Hall calls a real Jew (or a real Jew), she does so in a hall of fragmented mirrors very much like Smilesburger’s: her reﬂection of Grammy’s reﬂection of Alvy as Jew is clearly marked as a Jew’s reﬂection of a WASP’s reﬂection of Jewishness—its attractions (to Annie), its pitfalls (to Grammy). Like Moses Mendelssohn, Disraeli, Rebecca Davis, Louisa Rothschild, Freud—like the whole host of assimilated or assimilating Jewish intellectuals—Woody Allen thereby seeks to intervene in the discourses by which Jewishness is made, maintained, staged, theatricalized.
18 And in this incarnation—an incarnation that, as opposed to the orthodox version of the Christian one, brings with it only the fragments of a resolved identity, the shards of a uniﬁed visage—only ‘‘dispute’’ can provide a ﬁeld on which a collective identity can be forged, then broken and remade. This book understands that it, too, takes part in this quarrel, both internal and external; it is in part, that is to say, written by an American Jew, the product of an assimilated German-Jewish identiﬁed family that managed, by various means, to escape the Holocaust at something like the last minute and make careers in the American high-culture industry: his father and mother and wife are or have been college professors; his uncle, naturally, is a psychoanalyst.
The Temple of Culture: Assimilation & Anti-Semitism in Literary Anglo-America by Jonathan Freedman