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The Ambivalent Author

Five German Writers and their Jewish Characters, 1848-1914


Hannah Burdekin

This study addresses the problems raised by the ambivalent comments about or portrayals of the Jews to be found in the writings of Gustav Freytag, Wilhelm Raabe, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Theodor Fontane and the early Thomas Mann. Why was it that these supposedly tolerant and liberal-minded men could use the language and images of antisemitism in their non-fiction and fiction? The book considers the question within the context of the unequal German-Jewish relationship in the period before, during and after Jewish emancipation. This study exposes the problematic way in which liberal-minded Germans thought about and treated the Jews in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Contents: Gustav Freytag: The Limitations of Liberalism – Wilhelm Raabe: The Master, the ‘Schöne Semitische Zauberin’ and her ‘Krummnasige Verwandtschaft’ – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch: Erratic Solidarity – Theodor Fontane: The Uncertain Critic – Thomas Mann: The Blindness of the ‘bequeme Mehrzahl’.