Classical Liberalism and the Jewish Tradition

Transaction Publishers - 173 pàgines
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The incongruence if not antagonism between modern liberalism and the Jewish sense of the world has been most notably articulated by Lionel Trilling. Certainly the imaginative limitations and intellectual smugness he discerned in his own ideological party found a parallel, in his view, in the embrace of liberalism by the American Jewish community. The consequences of that embrace entail both a superficial intellectual and religious culture and a misunderstanding of the social and political dimensions of Judaism. In Classical Liberalism and the Jewish Tradition, Edward Alexander engages in a wide-ranging exploration of the roots of the fundamental antagonism between liberalism and Jewish tradition from the nineteenth century to the present day.

Central to Alexander's arguments is his incisive critique of the distortion of modern Judaism as a child of the Enlightenment and the notion that specifically Jewish concerns, whether with Zionism, the Holocaust, or sacred and secular writings, constitute a narrow and parochial betrayal of liberal interests. The chapters are divided among political, religious, and literary subjects. The opening chapter on Mill's ambivalent attitude toward the Jews establishes terms of conflict between Judaism and liberal secularism and universality as do chapters on the antisemitism of Thomas Arnold and Marx and the more ambiguous Jewish self-identification of Disraeli.

Alexander examines such disparate topics as the hostility to the idea of a Jewish state on the part of numerous Israeli intellectuals, the disdain among liberals toward the specifically Jewish dimension of the Holocaust, and the capitulation of the Modern Language Association to the anti-Zionism of Edward Said. Turning to the uneasy status of Jewish religious texts and secular literature as sources of cultural revitalization, Alexander deals with the attempt by the Israeli scholar Adin Steinsaltz to bring the Talmud to the attention of contemporary Jewish readers and includes a chapter on his nineteenth-century precursor Emanuel Deutsch and his relationship to George Eliot. An analysis of Ruth Wisse's efforts to establish a modern Jewish literary canon is rounded out by chapters on two of the major figures of that canon: Isaac Bashevis Singer and Philip Roth.

While diverse in subject matter, Classical Liberalism and the Jewish Tradition is consistent in its unapologetic advocacy of a Jewish point of view and in its depth of scholarship in tracing the historical roots of contemporary attitudes and ideologies.

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Pàgines seleccionades


John Stuart Mill and the Jews
Disraeli and Marx Stammgenosse?
Israeli Intellectuals and Israeli Politics
Edward Said and the Modern Language Association
The LipstadtIrving Trial New Yorker Version
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A Talmud for Americans
Irving Howe and Secular Jewishness An Elegy
Saying Kaddish In Mem or in in Harry Alexander 19101998 Orphans Kaddish
Jews in English Departments
American History 195070 by Philip Roth
Do Jews Need a Literary Canon?
I B Singer on the Couch

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Passatges populars

Pàgina v - Marriage, which has been the bourne of so many narratives, is still a great beginning, as it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in Eden, but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness.
Pàgina 9 - Prophets were, in Church and State, the equivalent of the modern liberty of the press, gives a just but not an adequate conception of the part fulfilled in national and universal history by this great element of Jewish life...
Pàgina 61 - I would gladly have him think that the sun went round the earth, and that the stars were so many spangles set in the bright blue firmament.
Pàgina 115 - ... certain about / and it has often been observed, that we never say we are certain without implying that we doubt. To say that a thing must be, is to admit that it may not be. No one, I say, will die for his own calculations : he dies for realities. This is why a literary religion is so little to be depended upon ; it looks well in fair weather ; but its doctrines are opinions, and when called to suffer for them it slips them between its folios, or burns them at its hearth.
Pàgina 3 - I am thus one of the very few examples, in this country, of one who has, not thrown off religious belief, but never had it: I grew up in a negative state with regard to it. I looked upon the modern exactly as I did upon the ancient religion, as something which in no way concerned me.
Pàgina 169 - Dilke, on various subjects; several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason...
Pàgina xv - Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Pàgina 10 - Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household.
Pàgina 9 - ... of the historical books (the unmistakable work of Hebrew Conservatives of the sacerdotal order), and the morality and religion of the Prophecies : a distance as wide as between these last and the Gospels. Conditions more favourable to Progress could not easily exist: accordingly, the Jews, instead of being stationary like other Asiatics, were, next to the Greeks, the most progressive people of antiquity, and, jointly with them, have been the startingpoint and main propelling agency of modern...

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