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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 Beginning with a selection of Feuchtwanger’s unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, the volume examines the author’s approaches to Jewish history, Zionism, Judaism’s relationship to early Christianity and to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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4 Historical, Political, and Metaphysical Aspects of the East in Feuchtwanger’s Der falsche Nero (Sebastian Musch)

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Sebastian Musch

4 Historical, Political, and Metaphysical Aspects of the East in Feuchtwanger’s Der falsche Nero

abstract

This article examines the historical, political and metaphysical aspects of the East in Feuchtwanger’s novel Der falsche Nero. As a first step, I will expound on Feuchtwanger’s attraction to the East, which is rooted in the period around the First World War. Secondly, through a comparison of Thomas Mann’s and Feuchtwanger’s stances towards the war, I will highlight Feuchtwanger’s understanding of the historical task of the writer. After scrutinizing his conception of the role of Jewish people in the East and West, I will finally discuss Georg Lukács’ and Arnold Zweig’s critical objections to Der falsche Nero. In the conclusion, I will argue that it is precisely Feuchtwanger’s focus on the metaphysical dimension of the East, combined with his lack of interest in its actual history or politics, that lies behind Lukács’ and Zweig’s criticism.

The East in Der falsche Nero

Around the time he finished the revision of Warren Hastings, now entitled Kalkutta 4. Mai, together with Bertold Brecht in the second half of 1935, Feuchtwanger embarked on a new novel, Der falsche Nero.1 Widely←87 | 88→ read as a roman à clef that satirizes Hitler’s usurpation of power, the novel depicts the rise and fall of a false Nero, who manages to subdue a significant part of the Eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Similar to Jud Süß, Feuchtwanger chooses...

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