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Lamentations of Youth: The Diaries of Gershom Scholem, 1913-1919
     

Lamentations of Youth: The Diaries of Gershom Scholem, 1913-1919

by Gershom Scholem, Anthony David Skinner (Editor), Anthony David Skinner (Editor)
 

For decades, Gershom Scholem kept these diaries locked away, returning to them only to refresh his memory of past events and eloquent observations. They remained unread by others until the meticulously edited German edition of this book appeared in 2002.

Lamentations of Youth gives insight into a crucial stage in Scholem's life, beginning when he was a

Overview

For decades, Gershom Scholem kept these diaries locked away, returning to them only to refresh his memory of past events and eloquent observations. They remained unread by others until the meticulously edited German edition of this book appeared in 2002.

Lamentations of Youth gives insight into a crucial stage in Scholem's life, beginning when he was a student in Berlin during the First World War, a time of incubation and growth for his later ideas. Much of the journal writing, however, took place in Switzerland, a magnet for radical artists, socialist intellectuals, and revolutionaries fleeing war. The diaries are where Scholem forges his anarchic orthodoxy, and where he chronicles his intense relationship with Walter Benjamin. Many entries have the crisp quality of literary aphorisms crafted in the great German tradition of Kafka and Canetti.

For Scholem and Benjamin, the time they spent together in Switzerland spawned an astoundingly original view of literary criticism, interpretation, and cultural transmission. More personally, the themes of friendship, love, and heartbreak that dominate these pages later reemerge in Scholem's scholarship. No longer is the inner life of the critic seen as distinct from his textual criticism—they are deeply and esoterically intertwined.

Editorial Reviews

New York Sun
Lamentations of Youth provides intriguing access to a young man's whoosh of ideas in a time when socialism, anarchism, Zionism, modernism, and cubism were revolutionizing the world. Scholem leaps rapidly from this to that, metamorphosing from an uncertain student at Berlin University momentarily thrilled by Martin Buber, to a more confident thinker, gulping down the writings of Tolstoy, Nietzsche, and S.Y. Agnon.
— Barbara Probst Solomon

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674026698
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/15/2008
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are Saying About This

Scholem is perhaps the single most consequential scholar in 20th century Jewish history, and the undisputed master of the Jewish mystical tradition. He is also a powerfully influential and original figure in the history of modern Jewish thought. His fascinating diaries display the young Scholem as a man of his time: a German Jew in rebellion against his father's assimilationist generation, a passionate and neo-Romantic rebel conspiring to create his own neo-Nietzschean philosophy, a writer of poetry and an avid reader of both philosophy and literature. Lamentations of Youth will be of tremendous interest both to general readers and to scholars of the history of German Jewry, German cultural history, and the history of religions. This is a fascinating and timely volume.
Peter Gordon
Scholem is perhaps the single most consequential scholar in 20th century Jewish history, and the undisputed master of the Jewish mystical tradition. He is also a powerfully influential and original figure in the history of modern Jewish thought. His fascinating diaries display the young Scholem as a man of his time: a German Jew in rebellion against his father's assimilationist generation, a passionate and neo-Romantic rebel conspiring to create his own neo-Nietzschean philosophy, a writer of poetry and an avid reader of both philosophy and literature. Lamentations of Youth will be of tremendous interest both to general readers and to scholars of the history of German Jewry, German cultural history, and the history of religions. This is a fascinating and timely volume.
Peter Gordon, Harvard University

Meet the Author

The noted scholar Gershom Scholem (1897-1982) was a close friend of Walter Benjamin and was Professor of Jewish Mysticism at Hebrew University.

Anthony David Skinner is the author of The Patron: A Life of Salman Schocken.

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