Jewish Body

Jewish Body

by Melvin Konner
     
 

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Part of the Jewish Encounter series

A history of the Jewish people from bris to burial, from “muscle Jews” to nose jobs.

Melvin Konner, a renowned doctor and anthropologist, takes the measure of the “Jewish body,” considering sex, circumcision, menstruation, and even those most elusive and controversial of

Overview

Part of the Jewish Encounter series

A history of the Jewish people from bris to burial, from “muscle Jews” to nose jobs.

Melvin Konner, a renowned doctor and anthropologist, takes the measure of the “Jewish body,” considering sex, circumcision, menstruation, and even those most elusive and controversial of microscopic markers–Jewish genes. But this is not only a book that examines the human body through the prism of Jewish culture. Konner looks as well at the views of Jewish physiology held by non-Jews, and the way those views seeped into Jewish thought. He describes in detail the origins of the first nose job, and he writes about the Nazi ideology that categorized Jews as a public health menace on par with rats or germs.

A work of grand historical and philosophical sweep, The Jewish Body discusses the subtle relationship between the Jewish conception of the physical body and the Jewish conception of a bodiless God. It is a book about the relationship between a land–Israel–and the bodily sense not merely of individuals but of a people. As Konner describes, a renewed focus on the value of physical strength helped generate the creation of a Jewish homeland, and continued in the wake of it.

With deep insight and great originality, Konner gives us nothing less than an anatomical history of the Jewish people.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Anthropology professor and author Konner (Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews) exudes passion and knowledge while gamely evaluating the history of the body Judaic, including customs like circumcision and the way outsiders' ignorant or malicious portrayal-in all manner of historical art and propaganda (from Michaelangelo's horned Moses to children's picture book The Poison Mushroom)-have come to impact Jewish identity and physical awareness. Konnor also offers his own interpretations of specific Torah passages alongside their historically evolving meanings, as well as more seemingly modern phenomena like nose jobs and "shiks-appeal" (the "ultimate realization" of which is the "Jewish weakness for blondes"). Konner also looks at the Holocaust, Socialist Zionism (and its promotion of gender equality), and the "Jewry of muscles" credited with the victory of Israel over hostile neighbors. In this comprehensive look into Jewish physcality, Konner discusses the most sensitive topics with curiosity, impartiality and an impressive breadth of knowledge.
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From the Publisher
“Konner’s examination of the Jewish body ranges from the implications of Jewish genes to visions of master mystics crawling in thedense curls of God’s black beard—a brief metaphorical corporeality—and spans the ages from ancient Israel to Israel reborn. This range allows us fresh views of Jewish identity and self-identity from a committed and thoughtful author.” —Jewish Book World

In praise of Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews by Melvin Konner

“A poignant and highly accessible account of an ongoing story that transcends all telling.”
–Harold Bloom, author of The Western Canon and Jesus and Yahweh

“Certainly the best one-volume overview of Jewish history and identity available.:
–Sander L. Gilman, author of The Jew’s Body and Jewish Self-Hatred

“This sweeping study of the Jews feels so fresh and alive . . . [It is] nothing less than inspiring.”
The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805242669
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/13/2009
Series:
Jewish Encounters Series
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
890,721
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Melvin Konner, Ph.D., M.D., the author of nine books and is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, where he teaches in the anthropology, human biology, and Jewish studies programs. He has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, Science, and the New England Journal of Medicine. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


From the Hardcover edition.

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