Rewriting the Jew : Assimilation Narratives in the Russian by Gabriella Safran

By Gabriella Safran

In the Russian Empire of the 1870s and Eighties, whereas intellectuals and politicians furiously debated the "Jewish Question," an increasing number of acculturating Jews, who dressed, spoke, and behaved like non-Jews, seemed in genuine lifestyles and in literature. This publication examines tales approximately Jewish assimilation via 4 authors: Grigory Bogrov, a Russian Jew; Eliza Orzeszkowa, a Polish Catholic; and Nikolai Leskov and Anton Chekhov, either japanese Orthodox Russians. Safran introduces the English-language reader to works that have been a lot mentioned of their personal time, and she or he situates Jewish and non-Jewish writers jointly within the context they shared.

For nineteenth-century writers and readers, winning fictional characters have been "types," literary creations that either reflected and prompted the trajectories of actual lives. tales approximately Jewish assimilators and converts frequently juxtaposed contrasting forms: the honest reformer or actual convert who has skilled a whole transformation, and the key recidivist or fake convert whose genuine loyalties won't ever swap. As Safran exhibits, writers borrowed those forms from many resources, together with the unconventional of schooling produced via the Jewish enlightenment stream (the Haskalah), the political rhetoric of "Positivist" Polish nationalism, the Bible, Shakespeare, and Slavic people beliefs.

Rewriting the Jew casts new mild at the thought of sort itself and at the query of no matter if literature can transfigure readers. The vintage tale of Jewish assimilation describes readers who redecorate themselves after the version of fictional characters in secular texts. The writers studied right here, although, research makes an attempt at Jewish self-transformation whereas considering concerning the reformability of character. In their works, Safran relates the fashionable jap eu Jewish event to a basic query of aesthetics: Can artwork swap us?

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By Gabriella Safran

In the Russian Empire of the 1870s and Eighties, whereas intellectuals and politicians furiously debated the "Jewish Question," an increasing number of acculturating Jews, who dressed, spoke, and behaved like non-Jews, seemed in genuine lifestyles and in literature. This publication examines tales approximately Jewish assimilation via 4 authors: Grigory Bogrov, a Russian Jew; Eliza Orzeszkowa, a Polish Catholic; and Nikolai Leskov and Anton Chekhov, either japanese Orthodox Russians. Safran introduces the English-language reader to works that have been a lot mentioned of their personal time, and she or he situates Jewish and non-Jewish writers jointly within the context they shared.

For nineteenth-century writers and readers, winning fictional characters have been "types," literary creations that either reflected and prompted the trajectories of actual lives. tales approximately Jewish assimilators and converts frequently juxtaposed contrasting forms: the honest reformer or actual convert who has skilled a whole transformation, and the key recidivist or fake convert whose genuine loyalties won't ever swap. As Safran exhibits, writers borrowed those forms from many resources, together with the unconventional of schooling produced via the Jewish enlightenment stream (the Haskalah), the political rhetoric of "Positivist" Polish nationalism, the Bible, Shakespeare, and Slavic people beliefs.

Rewriting the Jew casts new mild at the thought of sort itself and at the query of no matter if literature can transfigure readers. The vintage tale of Jewish assimilation describes readers who redecorate themselves after the version of fictional characters in secular texts. The writers studied right here, although, research makes an attempt at Jewish self-transformation whereas considering concerning the reformability of character. In their works, Safran relates the fashionable jap eu Jewish event to a basic query of aesthetics: Can artwork swap us?

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Additional resources for Rewriting the Jew : Assimilation Narratives in the Russian Empire

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41 It may have been under the influence of this opinion that the tsarist government eventually seemed to suggest that some minorities were unassimilable when it permitted members of certain groups, such as the Jews, to emigrate. 42 Because disagreements over the cultural and legal place of the Jews made reference to larger disputes about whether Russian citizenship should be redesigned according to Western models, examination of the changing treatment of the Jews opens a window on the interplay between changing notions of imperial subjecthood and citizenship as well as of the individual’s possible personal, religious, and political affiliations.

Even a Soviet critic who set about in the s to defend Bogrov agreed that he “must be recognized as representing the extremist wing of our assimilationist movement,” and a late-twentieth-century American reference work notes that he “sharply criticized Jewish leadership and advocated radical reforms. . ”27 Nonetheless, a few scholars have pointed out that Bogrov’s assimilation- 32 GRIGORY BOGROV ism was tempered by sympathy for the Jewish masses and cynicism toward the tsarist government. One historian of Jewish literature observes sententiously that while the depiction of Jewish life in Notes of a Jew is “entirely vitiated by the author’s antagonistic spirit .

The poet Nikolai Nekrasov, in his controversial  poem “Poet i grazhdanin” [The Poet and the Citizen], defined the citizen as a patriot prepared to defend his country from any evil: A chto takoe grazhdanin? 34 And what is a citizen? A worthy son of the fatherland. Censors and the public alike read Nekrasov as calling for the destruction of the current social system and its radical restructuring. Those who favored Jewish acculturation could have had Nekrasov’s images in mind. They needed to believe that Russia was developing a civil society in which the acculturated Jew would be granted an equal place.

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