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The Jewess Pallas Athena

This Too a Theory of Modernity

Barbara Hahn

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte


"The Jewess Pallas Athena"--a line from a poem by Paul Celan. It is a provocative phrase, cutting across cultures and traditions. But it poses questions: How to reconstruct a culture that has been destroyed? How to conceive of history after the catastrophes of the twentieth century?

This book begins in the mid-eighteenth century with the first Jewish women to raise their voices in German. It ends two hundred years later, with another group of Jewish women looking back at a country from which they had been expelled and to which they would never want to return. Among the many prominent female intellectuals and literary figures Barbara Hahn discusses are Hannah Arendt, Gertrud Kantorowicz, Rosa Luxemburg, Else Lasker-Schüler, Margarete Susman, and Rahel Levin Varnhagen. In examining their writing, she reflects upon the question of how German culture was constructed--with its inherent patterns of exclusion. This is a book about hope and despair, possibilities and preventions. We see attempts at dialogue between Christians and Jews, men and women, "Germans" and "Jews," attempts initiated by these women that, for the most part, remained unanswered. Finally, the book reconstructs the changing notions of the "Jewess," a key word in modern German history with its connotations of "salons," "beauty," and "esprit." And yet a word that is also disastrous, in which there culminated everything the dominant culture condemned as dangerous.



Genre, Humiliation, Orthodox Judaism, Thought, Henriette Herz, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Georg Simmel, Rahel Varnhagen, Household, Residence, Religion, Jews, Jewish name, Suffering, University of California Press, German language, Two Women, Rosa Luxemburg, Festschrift, Meal, Hannah Arendt, History and Class Consciousness, Charlotte von Stein, Narrative, Caesura, Zionism, Conversion to Judaism, Franz Kafka, Jewish history, Yiddish, Mrs., Margarete Susman, Bourgeoisie, Martin Buber, Salon (gathering), Moses Mendelssohn, Form of life (philosophy), Garret, Women in Judaism, Fritz Mauthner, In Search of Lost Time, Hedwig Lachmann, Bernstein, Elisabeth Blochmann, Deed, Monologue, Physiognomy, Friedrich Nietzsche, Persecution, Stefan George, Philosophy, Acculturation, Historical fiction, Autobiography, Exclusion, Judaism, Walther Rathenau, Marianne Weber, Nelly Sachs, Heinrich Heine, Max Liebermann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Philosopher, Muteness, The Various, Modernity, Virginity, The Origins of Totalitarianism, Moritz Lazarus, Correspondent, Jewish nose, Greek mythology, Writing, Germans, The Other Hand, Christendom, Literature, Historical figure, Racism, Ideology, Henry van de Velde, Alfred Sisley, Faience, Midrash, Grandparent, Martin Heidegger, Publication, Lament, Christianity, Walter Benjamin, Defamation, Political spectrum, Paul Celan, Karl Jaspers, Romanticism, Lecture, Oppression, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Greatness, Poetry