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

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, ...

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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.

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674026698
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2008
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Introduction

Part I. A Zarathustra for the Jews: Winter 1913–January 1916

Part II. Blue-White Spectacles: March–December 1916

Part III. The Idiot: January 1917–April 1918

Part IV. Job's Lamentation: May 1918–August 1919

Conclusion: Melancholy Redemption, 1919–1981

Notes

Index

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