Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew (Hardback)
  • Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew (Hardback)
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Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew (Hardback)

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£79.00
Hardback 376 Pages / Published: 03/11/2014
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Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew proposes a new way of understanding modern Orientalism. Tracing a path of modern Orientalist thought in German across crucial writings from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, Librett argues that Orientalism and anti-Judaism are inextricably entangled.

Librett suggests, further, that the Western assertion of "material" power, in terms of which Orientalism is often read, is overdetermined by a "spiritual" weakness: an anxiety about the absence of absolute foundations and values that coincides with Western modernity itself. The modern West, he shows, posits an Oriental origin as a fetish to fill the absent place of lacking foundations. This fetish is appropriated as Western through a quasi-secularized application of Christian typology. Further, the Western appropriation of the "good" Orient always leaves behind the remainder of the "bad," inassimilable Orient.

The book traces variations on this theme through historicist and idealist texts of the nineteenth century and then shows how high modernists like Buber, Kafka, Mann, and Freud place this historicist narrative in question. The book concludes with the outlines of a cultural historiography that would distance itself from the metaphysics of historicism, confronting instead its underlying anxieties.

Publisher: Fordham University Press
ISBN: 9780823262915
Number of pages: 376
Weight: 3 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
In this sweeping study reaching from Baruch Spinoza to Edward Said, Jeffrey Librett uncovers with superb erudition the driving force of Orientalism: the panicked disavowal of the 'crisis of foundations' in Western modernity. Librett's astute analyses of transcendental-historicist texts from Herder to Schopenhauer are followed by fresh interpretations of critical modernist responses by Kafka and Freud. A groundbreaking critique of Said's critique of Freud and a keen analysis of the vicissitudes of contemporary German Orientalism complement this 'anamnestic journey.' The 19th century historicist appropriation of typology is shown to culminate disastrously in the Semitic/Aryan split, only to be shadowed by the split between the 'good' and the 'bad Semite' - an antagonism that haunts international politics in ruinous ways to this day. Librett's study is of great relevance for scholars of German philosophy and culture, Middle-Eastern Studies, Religious Studies and Psychoanalysis, and for any scholar concerned about the conflict in the Middle-East. -- -Elisabeth Weber * University of California, Santa Barbara *
"This magisterially researched and probingly argued study opens a completely new and potentially groundbreaking perspective on Orientalism. In impeccably executed detail, it demonstrates that what has long been seen as a binary opposition between East and West has in fact relied since its inception on a triangular dynamic between three shifting poles: not simply Occident vs. Orient, but the Occident, the Orient, and the Jew. Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew will be of interest to a wide range of scholars." -- -David Martyn * Macalester College *

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