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Jewish Pasts, German FictionsHistory, Memory, and Minority Culture in Germany, 1824-1955$
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Jonathan Skolnik

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804786072

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804786072.001.0001

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Jewish History Under the Sign of Secularization

Jewish History Under the Sign of Secularization

Berthold Auerbach's Spinoza (1837)

Chapter:
(p.23) One Jewish History Under the Sign of Secularization
Source:
Jewish Pasts, German Fictions
Author(s):

Jonathan Skolnik

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804786072.003.0002

This chapter argues that Jewish historical fiction arose in direct response to the secularization of Jewish history, a process that can never be total in relation to Jewish culture. It is hardly a coincidence that the first major German-Jewish historical novel, by Berthold Auerbach (1837), takes Baruch Spinoza as its subject. Auerbach, a major popularizer of Spinoza, deftly uses dissimilation to establish a space for Jewish identity as part of an ethos of universal humanism and German cultural nationalism. Auerbach's novel weaves chapters from the Sephardic-Jewish past into a narrative familiar to readers of the German classics, and can only be understood as a response to texts by Goethe and Gutzkow.

Keywords:   Auerbach, Spinoza, Goethe, Gutzkow, Wandering Jew, historical time

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