The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image

Overview

"This is a spectacular book, deeply researched and brilliantly written, on a riveting subject—the historical reception of Spinoza from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Schwartz demonstrates his command of European philosophy, modern European Jewish history, Hebrew and Yiddish literature, and Zionist culture. A tour de force."—David Biale, University of California, Davis

"In this daring and outstanding book, Schwartz does a superb job of bringing Spinoza back to life in a number of diverse and ...

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The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image

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Overview

"This is a spectacular book, deeply researched and brilliantly written, on a riveting subject—the historical reception of Spinoza from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Schwartz demonstrates his command of European philosophy, modern European Jewish history, Hebrew and Yiddish literature, and Zionist culture. A tour de force."—David Biale, University of California, Davis

"In this daring and outstanding book, Schwartz does a superb job of bringing Spinoza back to life in a number of diverse and intriguing historical contexts. A full-bodied cultural history, attentive to the various settings in which Spinoza was rediscovered and revivified, this is the most wide-ranging, historically grounded, and illuminating book that has been written on the subject."—David N. Myers, University of California, Los Angeles

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Co-Winner of the 2012 Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize, American Academy for Jewish Research

Finalist for the 2012 National Jewish Book Award in History

"We have long needed a thorough and careful study of the various ways in which Spinoza has been appropriated by Jewish causes and movements. Daniel Schwartz's welcome book takes a close look for the first time at what the author calls 'the rehabilitation of Spinoza in Jewish culture.'"—Steven Nadler, Times Literary Supplement

"Whether Baruch Spinoza was 'the first modern Jew,' as the title of this outstanding volume suggests, has been a subject of continuing debate. . . . Schwartz displays admirable versatility in tracing the idolizations, disputes, and ambivalences evoked by Spinoza in Germany (Moses Mendelssohn and Berthold Auerbach) and eastern Europe (Salomon Rubin), within Zionism (Yosef Klausner), and in Yiddish literature (Isaac Bashevis Singer). . . . Essential."—M. A. Meyer, Choice

"[P]assionate arguments, of the kind now richly documented by Schwartz, about Spinoza's Jewishness and his relevance to our times, still enrich and enrage . . . and probably will continue to do so—without end."—Allan Nadler, Forward.com

"This is the first full-scale history of Spinoza's reception among Jews. . . . [I]t clearly demonstrates how this excluded philosopher could be viewed as religious or secular, as more Baruch or more Benedict, but almost necessarily as a touchstone in defining Jewish identity in the modern age."—Choice

"With extensive and helpful notes, an index and a bibliography, this work is highly recommended for all academic collections that deal with Jews and Judaism in the modern age."—Marion M. Stein, Classical World

Choice
This is the first full-scale history of Spinoza's reception among Jews. . . . [I]t clearly demonstrates how this excluded philosopher could be viewed as religious or secular, as more Baruch or more Benedict, but almost necessarily as a touchstone in defining Jewish identity in the modern age.
Forward.com
[P]assionate arguments, of the kind now richly documented by Schwartz, about Spinoza's Jewishness and his relevance to our times, still enrich and enrage . . . and probably will continue to do so—without end.
— Allan Nadler
Times Literary Supplement
We have long needed a thorough and careful study of the various ways in which Spinoza has been appropriated by Jewish causes and movements. Daniel Schwartz's welcome book takes a close look for the first time at what the author calls 'the rehabilitation of Spinoza in Jewish culture.'
— Steven Nadler
Times Literary Supplement - Steven Nadler
We have long needed a thorough and careful study of the various ways in which Spinoza has been appropriated by Jewish causes and movements. Daniel Schwartz's welcome book takes a close look for the first time at what the author calls 'the rehabilitation of Spinoza in Jewish culture.'
Choice - M.A. Meyer
Whether Baruch Spinoza was 'the first modern Jew,' as the title of this outstanding volume suggests, has been a subject of continuing debate. . . . Schwartz displays admirable versatility in tracing the idolizations, disputes, and ambivalences evoked by Spinoza in Germany (Moses Mendelssohn and Berthold Auerbach) and eastern Europe (Salomon Rubin), within Zionism (Yosef Klausner), and in Yiddish literature (Isaac Bashevis Singer). . . . Essential.
Forward.com - Allan Nadler
[P]assionate arguments, of the kind now richly documented by Schwartz, about Spinoza's Jewishness and his relevance to our times, still enrich and enrage . . . and probably will continue to do so—without end.
Choice - M. A. Meyer
Whether Baruch Spinoza was 'the first modern Jew,' as the title of this outstanding volume suggests, has been a subject of continuing debate. . . . Schwartz displays admirable versatility in tracing the idolizations, disputes, and ambivalences evoked by Spinoza in Germany (Moses Mendelssohn and Berthold Auerbach) and eastern Europe (Salomon Rubin), within Zionism (Yosef Klausner), and in Yiddish literature (Isaac Bashevis Singer). . . . Essential.
Classical World - Marion M. Stein
With extensive and helpful notes, an index and a bibliography, this work is highly recommended for all academic collections that deal with Jews and Judaism in the modern age.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691162140
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,470,377
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel B. Schwartz is assistant professor of history at George Washington University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Preface and Acknowledgments xi
Note on Translations and Romanization xvii
Introduction 1
Spinoza's Jewish Modernities
Chapter 1: Ex-Jew, Eternal Jew: 15
Early Representations of the Jewish Spinoza
Chapter 2: Refining Spinoza: 35
Moses Mendelssohn's Response to the Amsterdam Heretic
Chapter 3: The First Modern Jew: 55
Berthold Auerbach's Spinoza and the Beginnings of an Image
Chapter 4: A Rebel against the Past, A Revealer of Secrets: 81
Salomon Rubin and the East European Maskilic Spinoza
Chapter 5: From the Heights of Mount Scopus: 113
Yosef Klausner and the Zionist Rehabilitation of Spinoza
Chapter 6: Farewell, Spinoza: 155
I. B. Singer and the Tragicomedy of the Jewish Spinozist
Epilogue: 189
Spinoza Redivivus in the Twenty-First Century
Notes 203
Bibliography 247
Index 265

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