History, Imagination, Exile
Edited By Paul Lerner and Frank Stern
6 Jud Süß in English Translation (Ian Wallace)
6 Jud Süß in English Translation
When Lion Feuchtwanger’s novel Jud Süß was published in 1925 it became an instant bestseller. Only one year later it appeared in an acclaimed English translation by Edwin and Willa Muir. This chapter explores the extraordinary critical and commercial success of the translation and its lasting impact on Feuchtwanger’s international reputation. Particular attention is drawn to three factors which played a noteworthy part in this success: a seminal review by the eminent British novelist Arnold Bennett, the business acumen of the British publisher Martin Secker, and above all the much-praised skill of his Scottish translators. The chapter concludes by pointing to the continuing need, almost a century after it was first published, both for an authoritative critical edition of the novel and also for a comparative study of the many translations which have subsequently appeared in a wide variety of languages.
Any volume devoted to exploring the relationship between Lion Feuchtwanger and Judaism can scarcely avoid consideration of Jud Süß (1925), the bestselling novel on which the writer’s reputation was first founded and on which it continues in no small measure to rest today. Described by the celebrated French filmmaker and writer Claude Lanzmann in his autobiography as “a hymn to the Jews of medieval Germany that is impossible to read without tears”,1 the work began its long gestation when the young Feuchtwanger discovered in his father’s library the first German edition...
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