Book

The Figural Jew

Sarah Hammerschlag

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226315119
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226315133 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226315133.001.0001
The Figural Jew

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The rootless Jew, wandering disconnected from history, homeland, and nature, was often the target of early twentieth-century nationalist rhetoric aimed against modern culture. But following World War II, a number of prominent French philosophers recast this maligned figure in positive terms, and in so doing transformed postwar conceptions of politics and identity. This book explores this figure of the Jew from its prewar usage to its resuscitation by Jean-Paul Sartre, Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Blanchot, and Jacques Derrida. Sartre and Levinas idealized the Jews' rootlessness in order to rethink the foundations of political identity. Blanchot and Derrida, in turn, used the figure of the Jew to call into question the very nature of group identification. By chronicling this evolution in thinking, this book ultimately reveals how the figural Jew can function as a critical mechanism that exposes the political dangers of mythic allegiance, whether couched in universalizing or particularizing terms.

Keywords: Jews; Jean-Paul Sartre; Emmanuel Levinas; Maurice Blanchot; Jacques Derrida; group identification; rootlessness; figural Jew; politics; identity

Book.  308 pages. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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Table of Contents

Introduction in The Figural Jew

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Conclusion in The Figural Jew

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