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Feuchtwanger and Judaism

History, Imagination, Exile

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Edited By Paul Lerner and Frank Stern

This collection of essays is devoted to the Jewish themes that ran through Lion Feuchtwanger’s life, works and worlds. Beginning with a selection of Feuchtwanger’s unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, the volume examines the author’s approaches to Jewish history, Zionism, Judaism’s relationship to early Christianity and to eastern religions, and Jewish identity through his works, above all his historical fiction. Essays also trace translations of his works into English and Russian, and the meaning of his writing for various communities of Jewish and non-Jewish readers in Britain, North America, and the Soviet Union. A final section frames the issues around Feuchtwanger and Jewishness more broadly by considering the condition of exile and expanding the focus to communities of émigré writers and political figures in North America and beyond.
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1 Lion Feuchtwanger’s Jewish Historical Consciousness in America (Margrit Frölich)

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Margrit Frölich

1 Lion Feuchtwanger’s Jewish Historical Consciousness in America

abstract

The following text explores Feuchtwanger’s essays and public speeches from the 1930s and 1940s until his death in 1958 in light of what they reveal about his relationship to his Jewishness and Judaism. I will also demonstrate how Feuchtwanger’s public commitment to Jewish causes and his efforts to raise public awareness about the political situation in Europe and the entrapment of Jews under Nazi rule became a prominent feature of his activities after his arrival in the United States in October 1940.

Jewish experience, along with its cultural and religious foundations, is a prime subject throughout Feuchtwanger’s literary work, and it is also a prominent theme in many of his essays and public speeches.1 Feuchtwanger’s essayistic reflections demonstrate that although he detached himself as a young man from the Jewish orthodoxy of his upbringing, his intellectual engagement with Judaism remained a lifelong dedication.2 His essays and public addresses from the 1930s and 1940s also show the role Jewishness played for him until his death in Los Angeles in 1958. They demonstrate that Feuchtwanger’s commitment to history and politics, in particular his←17 | 18→ determination to fight against National Socialism and speak on behalf of Jewish causes, gained a heightened sense of urgency in light of the political events in Europe, and notably after his arrival in the United States in October 1940. Some essays in which Feuchtwanger developed his key...

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