The Temple of Culture: Assimilation and Anti-Semitism in Literary Anglo-America

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From the beginning of modern intellectual history to the culture wars of the present day, the experience of assimilating Jews and the idiom of "culture" have been fundamentally intertwined with each other. Freedman's book begins by looking at images of the stereotypical Jew in the literary culture of nineteenth- and twentieth-century England and America, and then considers the efforts on the part of Jewish critics and intellectuals to counter this image in the public sphere. It explores the unexpected parallels and ironic reversals between a cultural dispensation that had ambivalent responses to Jews and Jews who became exponents of that very tradition.

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Editorial Reviews

Supplement Times Literary
The Temple of Culture has, it is to be hoped, changed the terms of debate away from the many heated and fruitless exchanges which have steadfastly ignored the fundamental ambivalences which remain at the heart of Anglo-American culture.
From the Publisher
"A very smart study that investigates the evolution of 'the Jew' in liberal culture worship in an admirably thorough and perhaps even definitive manner. It is also engagingly written throughout, managing the hat-trick of cultural theoretics without even the slightest hint of awkward, jargoned prose....[Freedman's] examination of how the mid-to-late-century New York Jewish intelligentsia became messily entangled in this web is chock full of excellent research and fascinating 'insider' narratives, as well as nuanced insights into where the profession sits today in terms of these academic Jewish psycho-dramas....Freedman's renewed interest in Henry James forms the centerpiece of this study....[He develops] some compelling readings of the Jewish characters and their associated implications throughout James's writing, leading to the most central example, The Golden Bowl."—IEnglish Literature in Transition: 1880-1920

"Where The Temple of Culture differs markedly from the usual accounts of literary anti-Semitism is that it also explores the response of Jewish individuals (academics, publishers and New York freethinkers) to the manifold discourses which brought together Jews and culture in increasingly odd conjunctions....Achieves a great deal in a relatively short but remarkably intelligent book....The Temple of Culture has, it is to be hoped, changed the terms of debate away from the many heated and fruitless exchanges which have steadfastly ignored the fundamental ambivalences which remain at the heart of Anglo-American culture."—The Times Literary Supplement

"...a profoundly important...analysis of the rise and decline of literary high culture in the past century and of the crucial, shifting role of Jews in negotiating and mediating that culture...This is a fascinating account, as much for what it leaves out as for what it includes...Freedman's work could well prove enormously helpful to Christians and religious Jews alike in understanding the current place of literary high culture in our society...Freedman's book is an excellent example of a sophisticated, self-confident, and mature postmodernist criticism, weaving the contemporary theoretical discourses of the past thirty years into a near-seamless whole."—Christianity and Literature

"...[an] informative study....Recommended for comprehensive collections serving upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty."—Choice

"Jonathan Freedman's book, The Temple of Culture, is a surprising and original look at the problematic position of Jews (and their image) in the rise of modern 'high' culture. Focussing on British writers from Trollope to De Maurier (and those Americans, like Henry James, who imagined themselves British), Freedman provides a compelling and well-documented introduction to the underlying tensions within the 'English' literature of the last turn of the century and beyond. This is a major addition to the literature on Jews, their representation, and high Anglophone culture. A must read!"—Sander Gilman, University of Chicago

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195131574
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Michigan
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Table of Contents

1. The Jew in the Museum
2. The Temple of Culture and the Market for Letters:The Jew and the Way We Write Now
3. The Mania for the Middlebrow: Trilby, the Jew, and the Middlebrow Imaginary
4. Henry James and the Discourses of Anti-Semitism
5. Henry James among the Jews
Afterword: Beyond the Battle of the Blooms

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