Contrapuntal Readings

Schechter Ronald

in Obstinate Hebrews

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2003 | ISBN: 9780520235571
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929357 | DOI:
Contrapuntal Readings

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This chapter shows how Jews responded to the mountain of literature in which French authors claimed to describe them. The most direct way of responding to books and pamphlets that criticized the Jews and their religion was to write books and pamphlets in their defense. Of necessity, the Jews had to speak the language of those they hoped to persuade, which in this case was the language of the Enlightenment. The values of individualism and communitarianism, freedom and equality, science and folk wisdom, civilized complexity and savage simplicity were so mutually inimical that the greatest minds of the century failed to resolve these contradictions. The Jews who chose to defend themselves in the idiom of the Enlightenment were similarly prone to contradict themselves.

Keywords: literature; communitarianism; Enlightenment; equality; individualism

Chapter.  16983 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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