Poles and Jews: A Failed Brotherhood / Edition 1

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Poles and Jews draws upon a vast archive of Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew, German, French, and Russian literary works and historical sources to examine Polish and Jewish perceptions of the Polish-Jewish rapprochement of the early 1860s. The idea of a Polish-Jewish brotherhood developed during the wave of patriotic demonstrations that swept through Poland in 1861-1862 and culminated in the Polish national insurrection against Czarist Russia in 1863. With the revolution, Polish separatists appealed for Jewish support and promised full equality as a reward. Despite the Jewish tradition of loyalty to the Czar,many took active part in the anti-Russian underground and partisan war.

The 1864 defeat transformed Polish attitudes from enthusiasm to ambivalence. The conflicting interpretations by Poles and Jews of the short-lived "brotherhood" of the 1860s remained at the center of Polish-Jewish relations through the remainder of the nineteenth century. Changing ideologies and political currents saw this tradition adapted to fit conflicting needs. While Jewish reflection on the past accelerated growth of Jewish nationalism, the Poles used their interpretation to score points for and against the integration of Jews into Polish society. The period covered in Poles and Jews sets the stage for the tragedies of 20th-century Central and Eastern European history. By examining and comparing Polish and Jewish literary reflections on the revolt, Opalski and Bartal illuminate an important period for all those interested in Jewish and Polish history and in Polish, Hebrew, and Yiddish literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This volume focuses on a lesser-known episode in the stormy history of Polish-Jewish relations, a brief period of rapprochement in the 1860s. Opalski, a professor of East European studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, and Bartal, a professor of modern Jewish history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, bring an unusual perspective to the subject, studying the Polish and Jewish literature of the period to understand ``the myth of Polish-Jewish brotherhood during the last Polish uprising against Russia.'' Polish Jews were eager participants in the anti-Russian nationalist wave of 1861-1862, a phenomenon that ``gave birth to a peculiar ritual of fraternizing with the Jews.'' Although the authors paint the overall struggle of Poland for independence, too often the specific historical incidents under discussion are unknown to all but students of Polish history. Opalski and Bartal are much better at elucidating the broad social currents that allowed the Jews to be linked unfavorably in the Polish imagination with the rising tide of capitalism. The book is useful as a survey of an enormous range of 19th-century Polish and Jewish literature, and as an introduction to Polish-Jewish relations before the Holocaust, but the writing is dry and academic. Feb.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

MAGDALENA OPALSKI is an adjunct professor at the Institute of Soviet and East European Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa. She is author of The Jewish Tavern-keeper and His Tavern in Nineteenth-Century Polish Literature (1986).

ISRAEL BARTAL is Professor of Modern Jewish History at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is author of the forthcoming Non-Jews and Gentile Society in East European,Hebrew, and Yiddish Literature 1856-1914.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Main Trends in the 1850s
I Polish Literature between Romanticism and Realism 12
II Between Feudal and Capitalist Society: Polish-Jewish Relations in the Midnineteenth Century 15
III Polish Literary Image of the Jew 18
IV Jewish Literature in the 1850s 31
Ch. 2 The Patriotic Demonstrations, 1861-1862
I The Romantic Roots 38
II The Warsaw Connection 41
III The Jew with the Cross 44
IV C. K. Norwid's "Zydowie Polscy": Responses to the Warsaw Demonstrations 48
V The Legend of the Maccabees 51
VI Religious Stereotypes 55
Ch. 3 The January Uprising in Polish Eyes
I Jewish Attitudes toward the Revolt 58
II The Ambivalent Portrayal of the "Good Jew" 63
III Jewish Motivations in Polish Eyes 70
IV The Image of the Future 73
Ch. 4 The January Uprising in Jewish Eyes
I Time, Space, and Ideology 78
II Responding to Polish Symbolism 84
III The "Good Poles" and the "Bad Poles" 88
IV Ideology and Social Barriers: Polish-Jewish Love Stories 93
Ch. 5 Poles and Jews, 1863-1914
I The Postinsurrectionary Crisis 98
II Polish-Jewish Relations, 1863-1914 103
III Polish Literary Portrayals of Jews 105
IV Polish Society in Jewish Eyes: The Metamorphosis of the "Philosemite" 111
V The Gray Zone: Jewish Contributions to Polish Literature 119
Ch. 6 Aftermath
I Terminology and Symbols: The Decline of the Maccabees 123
II Jewish Attitudes in Retrospect 128
III Settling Accounts with the Veterans 131
IV "What Has Gone Wrong with the World?" 138
Conclusion: The Elusive Dialogue 144
Notes 149
Selected Bibliography 171
Index 187
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