Aldous Huxley wrote a poem where Jonah was “seated upon the convex mound of one vast kidney” of the fish that swallowed him, while George Orwell gave an interpretation of the Bible story in a review of Henry Miller. Read Stuart Halpern’s romp through Jonah’s reception history.
Hamlet, Shakespeare’s most peculiar tragedy, echoes one of the most peculiar books in the Hebrew Bible, Ecclesiastes. It also helps us understand its wisdom.
I would never have said this ten years ago, or even five years ago, but there apparently comes a time in the lives of those who write about Jewish identity when they have to decide whether to write about . . . it.
The great poet Abraham Sutzkever once swore an oath to serve Yiddish culture. He fulfilled his vow in ways no one could have ever imagined.
Chaim Grade’s Yiddish novel The Agunah is not so much a story about one woman’s plight as much as a whole city’s eruption over her story—the rabbis, the butchers, the mohels, the barbers, the housewives.
Although Martin Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and never forthrightly repented of the episode “no other philosopher had more impact on twentieth-century European Jewish thought.”
When the philosopher Theodor Adorno met Gershom Scholem, he thought that he “gave the impression of a Bedouin prince.” Their lifetime of letters orbits their shared love of their brilliant, doomed friend Walter Benjamin.
Osip Mandelstam thought being a writer in the Soviet Union was “incompatible with the honorable title of Jew.” Stalin didn’t like Jewish writers in general and disliked the poem about his “cockroach mustache” in particular.
At the age when most of us are just about to fold our tents, Henrietta Szold, pitched hers—and in the Holy Land, no less.
What did a seditious Sicilian duchess and the heretical son of a chief rabbi have to do with the beginnings of French antisemitism?