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Inventing the IsraeliteJewish Fiction in Nineteenth-Century France$
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Maurice Samuels

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804763844

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804763844.001.0001

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Romantic Exoticism: Eugénie Foa and the Dilemmas of Assimilation

Romantic Exoticism: Eugénie Foa and the Dilemmas of Assimilation

(p.37) One Romantic Exoticism: Eugénie Foa and the Dilemmas of Assimilation
Inventing the Israelite
Stanford University Press

In the nineteenth century, French Jewish authors often represented the life of French Jews by drawing on Romantic oriental stereotypes and appropriating the forms and features of literary convention. Walter Scott's 1819 historical novel, Ivanhoe, shaped the way the Jew was imagined in the nineteenth century, and provided a framework for thinking through political and cultural dilemmas in racial terms. This chapter looks at Eugénie Foa, a Jewish woman who wrote fiction in French during the Romantic period. It examines how Foa depicts the relation of the Jew to emerging forms of national identity in nineteenth-century France, how she imagines the racial identity of the Jew, and how she represents the long-suffering belle juive in her works. The chapter argues that she was not only a pioneering author but also a pioneering theorist of Jewish identity in the period after emancipation. In her fiction, Foa shifts from being faithful to Jewish law and tradition, and accepts conversion as a solution to the problems of Jewish modernity.

Keywords:   French Jews, France, Eugénie Foa, Romantic period, national identity, racial identity, Jewish identity, conversion, modernity, fiction

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