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Mediterranean EnlightenmentLivornese Jews, Tuscan Culture, and Eighteenth-Century Reform$
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Francesca Bregoli

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804786508

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804786508.001.0001

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Two Balancing Acts The Unlikely Cultural Mediations of Joseph Attias

Two Balancing Acts The Unlikely Cultural Mediations of Joseph Attias

(p.39) Two Balancing Acts The Unlikely Cultural Mediations of Joseph Attias
Mediterranean Enlightenment

Francesca Bregoli

Stanford University Press

Attias (1672-1739) was a Livornese Jewish savant who acted as a cultural mediator in the Republic of Letters. By investigating his position at the intersection of Jewish and non-Jewish worlds, this chapter explores the balancing acts required of a Jewish scholar who was predominantly active among non-Jews. Central themes are Attias's intermediary role, the intellectual relationships he forged, and his library as a site of cultural contact and controversy. In the non-Jewish cultural arena, Attias aimed to present himself neutrally, distancing his scholarly persona from conventional depictions of Jewishness. External forces continued to reinforce Attias's Jewishness, however, despite his desire to serve the wider Republic of Letters as an unmarked scholar. His individual experience anticipates the strategies followed by later Livornese Jewish lay scholars and leaders who participated in non-Jewish culture, the opportunities they could seize, and the restrictions and limitations they faced.

Keywords:   Jewish-Christian relations, ego-documents, cultural networks, mediation, libraries, Republic of Letters, Inquisition

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