Autobiographical Jews: Essays in Jewish Self-Fashioning by Michael Stanislawski

By Michael Stanislawski

Autobiographical Jews examines the character of autobiographical writing by way of Jews from antiquity to the current, and the ways that such writings can legitimately be used as assets for Jewish heritage. Drawing on present literary conception, which questions the very nature of autobiographical writing and its dating to what we quite often designate because the fact, and, to a lesser quantity, the hot cognitive neurosciences, Michael Stanislawski analyzes a few the most important and intricate autobiographical texts written via Jews in the course of the ages.

Stanislawski considers The existence by means of first-century historian Josephus; compares the early glossy autobiographies of Asher of Reichshofen (Book of stories) and Glikl of Hameln (Memoirs); analyzes the greatly various autobiographies of 2 Russian Jewish writers, the Hebrew Enlightenment writer Moshe Leib Lilienblum and the well-known Russian poet Osip Mandelstam; and appears at autobiographies written out of utter depression within the midst and within the wake of worldwide conflict II, Stefan Zweig’s the area of the day prior to this and Sarah Kofman’s Rue Ordener, Rue Labat.

These writers’ makes an attempt to painting their inner most and public struggles, anxieties, successes, and screw ups are expressions of a uncomplicated force for selfhood that's either undying and time-bound, common and culturally particular. The problem is to try to solve the wide awake from the subconscious distortions in those texts and to treat them as artifacts of people’ quests to make experience in their lives, initially for themselves after which, if attainable, for his or her readers.

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To his urgent request to spare him one hand I grudgingly consented, at which, to save himself the loss of both, he gladly drew his sword and struck off his left hand. 19 5. A final text, from the end of the Life: after being captured by the Romans Josephus had to accompany them on their pacification of Judea as a whole and Jerusalem in particular: From Alexandria I was sent with Titus to the siege of Jerusalem, where my life was frequently in danger, both from the Jews, who were eager to get me into their hands, to gratify their revenge, and from the Romans, who attributed every reverse to some treachery on my part, and were constantly and clamourously demanding of the emperor that he should punish me as their betrayer.

Since the Roman troops that had been seen on the road were not, in fact, headed for Tiberias, the natives begged for clemency from Josephus, who cast anchor far off shore so that the lack of armed forces on the sea could not be noticed. He then secured Tiberias for the Jewish side, took many prisoners from the leaders of the city, and once more had the hand of one of the leaders cut off, and in an ingenious way. When he ordered his bodyguard to do this act, the man was afraid, for a large crowd had gathered; Josephus then called forth the prisoner and said: “For such base ingratitude to me you deserve to lose both hands.

If none of us can truly produce an “objectively true” account of our lives, how can the historian approach the resultant texts as trustworthy documents of the past? 17 1 / Josephus’s Life I am by training and inclination a historian of modern Jewry, but I should like to begin my investigation in a time, place, and culture in which I have no first-hand experience, ancient Rome, and with a text not usually dealt with by the few other scholars of Jewish autobiography, Josephus’s Life. I approach this work with much trepidation, primarily because I cannot read this text, as opposed to the others I shall be treating in these pages, in its original language, first-century Greek, and must rely on the many translations of the Vita into Latin, English, Hebrew, and German that I have consulted.

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