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After the ghetto was imposed in Venice, Rome, and other Italian cities, Jewish settlement became more concentrated. Bonfil claims that the ghetto experience did more to intensify Jewish self-perception in early modern Europe than the supposed acculturation of the Renaissance. He shows how, paradoxically, ghetto living opened and transformed Jewish culture, hastening secularization and modernization.
Bonfil's detailed picture reveals in the Italian Jews a sensitivity and self-awareness that took into account every aspect of the larger society. His inside view of a culture flourishing under stress enables us to understand how identity is perceived through constant interplay—on whatever terms—with the Other.
|Pt. 1||Structures of Settlement and the Economy|
|I||The Laws of Topodemographic Distribution||19|
|II||Trades and Professions||79|
|Pt. 2||Structures of Culture and Society|
|III||The Problem of Sociocultural Identity: Some Preliminary Observations||101|
|IV||Education and the Rabbinical Ideal||125|
|V||Jewish Culture Hebraists, and the Role of the Kabbalah||145|
|Pt. 3||Structures of Mentality|
|VII||Time and Space||215|
|VIII||Sounds and Silence||233|
|IX||Colors, Tastes, and Odors||243|
|X||The Days of Life||247|
|XI||Death as the Mirror of Life||265|