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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 Beginning with a selection of Feuchtwanger’s unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, the volume examines the author’s approaches to Jewish history, Zionism, Judaism’s relationship to early Christianity and to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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2 Rethinking Jewishness in Dark Times: Feuchtwanger and Arnold Zweig on Judaism, Zionism, and History (Paul Lerner)

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Paul Lerner

2 Rethinking Jewishness in Dark Times: Feuchtwanger and Arnold Zweig on Judaism, Zionism, and History

abstract

This essay focuses on a little known 1933 Streitschrift [written debate] consisting of contributions by Feuchtwanger and Arnold Zweig on the topic of Die Aufgabe des Judentums [the Task or the Challenge of Jewry] published during the period of their French exile. It treats Feuchtwanger’s and Zweig’s texts in the context of the friendship between the two writers, the German-speaking exile community in France, and above all the broader debate about the meaning of Jewish history, Zionism, and the future of the Jews, showing how the two writers’ views evolved amid the dire political conditions in Europe and the situation of the Jews in Palestine.

In this connection I cannot gloss over the fact that for many years I considered the only adequate reply to the question, Who are you? to be: A Jew.

— Hannah Arendt (“On Humanity in Dark Times: Thoughts on Lessing,” 1968)

At the center of this essay lies a relatively obscure text, a 1933 Streitschrift [written debate] consisting of sections by Feuchtwanger and Arnold Zweig on the topic of Die Aufgabe des Judentums [the Task or perhaps the Challenge of Jewry].1 Feuchtwanger’s half bears the title “Nationalism and Judaism” and Zweig’s “The Will toward Jewish Expression” – “Jüdischer←41 | 42→ Ausdruckswille.” The text was published during the period of their French exile by the German-language,...

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