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18 October 1984
The Mystery Religion of W.B. Yeats 
by Graham Hough.
Harvester, 129 pp., £15.95, May 1984, 0 7108 0603 5
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Yeats, Eliot, Pound and the Politics of Poetry 
by Cairns Craig.
Croom Helm, 323 pp., £14.95, January 1982, 9780856649974
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Yeats. Poems 1919-1935: A Selection of Critical Essays 
edited by Elizabeth Cullingford.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £14, July 1984, 0 333 27422 9
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The Poet and his Audience 
by Ian Jack.
Cambridge, 198 pp., £20, July 1984, 0 521 26034 5
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A New Commentary on the Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 543 pp., £35, May 1984, 0 333 35214 9
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Poems of W.B. Yeats 
by A. Norman Jeffares.
Macmillan, 428 pp., £17, August 1984, 0 333 36213 6
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... forms and the period between 1890 and 1939 in which they underwent a revival. Against this background, enriched by the contributions of modern scholars from Denis Saurat to Frances Yates and GershomScholem, there emerge the first outlines of Yeats’s spiritual biography. As Professor Hough rightly remarks, this remains to be written. Should it ever be completed, this short book will be among its most ...

When it is advisable to put on a fez

Richard Popkin: Adventures of a Messiah

23 May 2002
The Lost Messiah: In Search of Sabbatai Sevi 
by John Freely.
Viking, 275 pp., £20, September 2001, 0 670 88675 0
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... heaped on the pretended messiah and his leading propagandist, Nathan of Gaza. New research in the last century has given us a much richer picture of Sabbatai’s background and career. In particular, GershomScholem, whose monumental biography appeared in Hebrew in 1957 and in English in 1973, found many new documents relating to Sabbatai and his followers and constructed a picture of a manic-depressive ...

Productive Mischief

Michael Wood: Borges and Borges and I

4 February 1999
Collected Fictions 
by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley.
Allen Lane, 565 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 14 028680 2
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... the other hand’. It’s all the same: the man’s tongue is burned out. It’s not the same: the reasons are quite different. In an eerie anticipation of this story, Walter Benjamin and his friend GershomScholem conducted just this sort of argument over a metaphor Benjamin had used about Kafka’s work. Kafka’s characters are students who have lost the scripture, Benjamin said. Scholem suggested ...
3 August 1995
The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin 1910-1940 
edited by Theodor Adorno and Manfred Jacobson, translated by Evelyn Jacobson.
Chicago, 651 pp., £39.95, May 1994, 0 226 04237 5
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T.W. Adorno/Walter Benjamin: Briefwechsel 1928-40 
edited by Henri Lonitz.
Suhrkamp, 501 pp., DM 64, April 1994, 3 518 58174 0
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... his life whether he was to be a Jewish writer or a German writer. The reviews show the choices he made, and in the spaces between the lines of this correspondence we can read his attempts to ward off Scholem’s over-enthusiastic embraces, even though the final decision not to emigrate to Palestine (see letter to Scholem of 20 January 1930, written in French and translated into English without comment in ...
10 January 1983
Mystical Theology and Social Dissent: The Life and Works of Judah Loew of Prague 
by Byron Sherwin.
Associated University Presses, 253 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 8386 3028 6
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Judaism on Trial: Jewish-Christian Disputations in the Middle Ages 
by Hyam Maccoby.
Associated University Presses, 245 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 8386 3053 7
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... in the history of Jewish mystical speculation.’ The major part of this book is devoted to an examination of Rabbi Loew’s theology, which Dr Sherwin claims (somewhat unfairly) has been ignored by GershomScholem and others because of a basic prejudice against Ostjuden. Indeed, Dr Sherwin makes the astonishing assertion that ‘Jewish life and thought in Central and Eastern Europe have been neglected ...

Phut-Phut

James Wood: The ‘TLS’

27 June 2002
Critical Times: The History of the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ 
by Derwent May.
HarperCollins, 606 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 00 711449 4
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... There is a story that GershomScholem, the scholar of Jewish mysticism, was being introduced at a lecture in New York. Mysticism, the introducer said sarcastically, is nothing; but a history of nothing – well, that is science. The same ...

Children of the State

Yitzhak Laor: The Zionist manipulation of history

26 January 2006
Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood 
by Idith Zertal.
Cambridge, 236 pp., £19.99, October 2005, 0 521 85096 7
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... in Israel and in the USA, after her book on the Eichmann trial was published, is described in full. In Israel the book was not available, even in English, until recently. Few read it. GershomScholem wrote a fierce attack on Arendt. She wrote him a letter. He promised to publish his attack only with her response, but he didn’t keep his promise, not in Israel, in Hebrew, not even in his later ...

Double Game

David Nirenberg: Maimonides

23 September 2010
Maimonides in His World 
by Sarah Stroumsa.
Princeton, 222 pp., £27.95, November 2009, 978 0 691 13763 6
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... forced to flee makes sense in more or less the same way that we might speak of the ‘relative intellectual openness’ of the liberal German world whose collapse drove Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt and GershomScholem into exile. ‘Relative’ is a problematic term. Christian Europe seems to be Stroumsa’s (implicit) measure of comparison, and again the judgment makes some sense. Maimonides’ family’s ...
1 July 1982
Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World 
by Elizabeth Young-Bruehl.
Yale, 563 pp., £12.95, May 1982, 0 300 02660 9
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Hannah Arendt and the Search for a New Political Philosophy 
by Bhikhu Parekh.
Macmillan, 198 pp., £20, October 1981, 0 333 30474 8
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... look like a prime example of a non-book.’ Was she wrong? Of course, she expressed herself trenchantly, and with an insensitivity to the issue that was tantamount to cruelty. Her old acquaintance GershomScholem attacked her for this, and never forgave her; some old friends in New York did much the same, and at the University of Chicago she was virtually ‘cut’ in the Faculty Club. She also failed ...

Diary

Thomas Laqueur: My Dead Fathers

7 September 2006
... could not be a race because if they were then the category of Jewishness would be incommensurate with Germanness. He laments that ‘people’ – Germans, I assume – ‘don’t understand this.’ GershomScholem famously argued with his colleagues as early as 1923, when he emigrated to Palestine, that the German Jewish love affair with Germany would be, and was, unrequited. But as late as 1935 there ...

Invisible Walls

Adam Shatz: Israel’s Revolutionary Left

3 August 2006
On the Border 
by Michel Warschawski, translated by Levi Laub.
Pluto, 228 pp., £14.99, May 2005, 0 7453 2325 1
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... that it took him years to realise this. In 1974, on a train in Europe, he ran into a well-known French-Jewish Trotskyist (he isn’t named, but it might have been Ernst Mandel), who was reading GershomScholem: Astonished, I asked him why the Jewish Cabbala interested him more than Zen Buddhism. He replied that it was part of his personal culture . . . Back in my compartment I thought to myself ...

Lectures about Heaven

Thomas Laqueur: Forgiving Germany

7 June 2007
Five Germanys I Have Known 
by Fritz Stern.
Farrar, Straus, 560 pp., £11.25, July 2007, 978 0 374 53086 0
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... his friend Laqueur, with whom he ran a journal and the Wiener Library in London; Laqueur, too, taught in the United States for many years, but unlike Mosse he had gone to Palestine in the late 1930s. GershomScholem, one of the 20th century’s great scholars of Judaism, ‘forgot’ to hand Stern the Einstein medal he was to receive when he visited Israel to help celebrate the physicist’s centenary ...

‘I merely belong to them’

Judith Butler: Hannah Arendt

10 May 2007
The Jewish Writings 
by Hannah Arendt, edited by Jerome Kohn and Ron Feldman.
Schocken, 559 pp., $35, March 2007, 978 0 8052 4238 6
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... of thousands was then repeated in India on a large scale involving many millions of people. It may well have been such views, along with her criticisms of Zionism in 1944 and 1948, that led to GershomScholem’s sharp allegations against Arendt in an exchange of letters in 1963, after the publication of Eichmann in Jerusalem. Scholem called her ‘heartless’ for concentrating dispassionately on ...

No one hates him more

Joshua Cohen: Franzen on Kraus

7 November 2013
The Kraus Project 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £18.99, October 2013, 978 0 00 751743 5
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... in 1986 and published in 2007). Kafka was a loyal reader, as was Benjamin, who regarded Die Fackel as the literary fulfilment of Trotsky’s permanent revolution – ‘an eternally new newspaper’. Gershom (then Gerhard) Scholem turned the noun Fackel into a verb, fackeln, ‘to torch on’: this wasn’t necessarily flattering but did back Kraus’s assertion that anyone who criticised him became more ...

Who Owns Kafka?

Judith Butler

3 March 2011
... a mode of being enveloped – Kafka also voiced scepticism about that mode of social belonging. Hannah Arendt, whose own sense of belonging was similarly vexed (and became a subject of dispute with GershomScholem), made famous one of Kafka’s quips about the Jewish people: ‘My people, provided that I have one.’ As Louis Begley has recently made clear in a quite candid biographical essay, Kafka ...

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