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Prague Territories / Edition 1
     

Prague Territories / Edition 1

by Scott Spector
 

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ISBN-10: 0520236920

ISBN-13: 2900520236928

Pub. Date: 08/01/2002

Publisher: University of California Press

Scott Spector's adventurous cultural history maps for the first time the "territories" carved out by German-Jewish intellectuals living in Prague at the dawn of the twentieth century. Spector explores the social, cultural, and ideological contexts in which Franz Kafka and his contemporaries flourished, revealing previously unseen relationships between politics and

Overview

Scott Spector's adventurous cultural history maps for the first time the "territories" carved out by German-Jewish intellectuals living in Prague at the dawn of the twentieth century. Spector explores the social, cultural, and ideological contexts in which Franz Kafka and his contemporaries flourished, revealing previously unseen relationships between politics and culture. His incisive readings of a broad array of German writers feature the work of Kafka and the so-called "Prague circle" and encompass journalism, political theory, Zionism, and translation as well as literary program and practice.

With the collapse of German-liberal cultural and political power in the late-nineteenth-century Habsburg Empire, Prague's bourgeois Jews found themselves squeezed between a growing Czech national movement on the one hand and a racial rather than cultural conception of Germanness on the other. Displaced from the central social and cultural position they had come to occupy, the members of the "postliberal" Kafka generation were dazzlingly productive and original, far out of proportion to their numbers. Seeking a relationship between ideological crisis and cultural innovation, Spector observes the emergence of new forms of territoriality.

He identifies three fundamental areas of cultural inventiveness related to this Prague circle's political and cultural dilemma. One was Expressionism, a revolt against all limits and boundaries, the second was a spiritual form of Zionism incorporating a novel approach to Jewish identity that seems to have been at odds with the pragmatic establishment of a Jewish state, and the third was a sort of cultural no-man's-land in which translation and mediation took the place of "territory." Spector's investigation of these areas shows that the intensely particular, idiosyncratic experience of German-speaking Jews in Prague allows access to much broader and more general conditions of modernity. Combining theoretical sophistication with a refreshingly original and readable style, Prague Territories illuminates some early signs of a contemporary crisis from which we have not yet emerged.

Author Biography: Scott Spector is Associate Professor of History and German Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900520236928
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
08/01/2002
Series:
Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
368

Table of Contents

Prefaceix
1.Prague Circles: Backgrounds and Methods1
2.Where's the Difference? Culture, Ideology, and the Aesthetics of Nationality36
3.The Territory of Language: From Art to Politics68
4.Encircling Humanity: Expressionist Universalism and Revolution93
5.Circumscribing Spiritual Territory: Inside Prague's Cultural Zionism135
6.New Orientations: Judaism, Desire, and the Gaze Eastward160
7.Middle Ground: Translation, Mediation, Correspondence195
Conclusion: Middle Europe234
Notes241
Bibliography291
Index319

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