The double bind of assimilation – that the Jews were vilified whether they succeeded or failed – is illustrated from literary treatments by the Romantic writer Wilhelm Hauff and the early twentieth-century writers Lion Feuchtwanger and Paul Kornfeld of the historical figure of ‘Jud Süß Oppenheimer’. Gustav Freytag’s use of the Jews as ‘counter-ideals’ in his notorious bestseller Soll und Haben (1855) and the onset of racial anti-Semitism in Wihelm von Polenz’s Der Büttnerbauer (1895) are illustrative of how literary anti-Semitism hardened in the course of the nineteenth century.
The book considers a number of literary texts, some well known, some less familiar, which are revealing of the way in which Jewish–Gentile relations were imagined in their time.
Acknowledgements I would like to thank Professor Florian Krobb and the German Department of NUI Maynooth for their help, supervision and encouragement, without which this book would never have come into being. I would also like to express my gratitude to Professor Ritchie Robertson of St John’s College, Oxford, whose input in the project was most appreciated. In addition, warm thanks must go to the ladies and gentlemen in the Deutsche Bücherei in Leipzig, the Goethe Institut Library in Dublin, the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt, the Jewish Community Library in Halle, and to my own colleagues in the John Paul II Library at NUIM. I would also like to thank Mrs Elizabeth Thom, who taught me my first word of German and who graciously and patiently encouraged me to pursue the language in those early days.
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