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By Barbara Hahn

"The Jewess Pallas Athena"--a line from a poem via Paul Celan. it's a provocative word, slicing throughout cultures and traditions. however it poses questions: find out how to reconstruct a tradition that has been destroyed? how you can conceive of heritage after the catastrophes of the 20 th century?

This ebook starts off within the mid-eighteenth century with the 1st Jewish ladies to elevate their voices in German. It ends 200 years later, with one other staff of Jewish ladies on reflection at a rustic from which that they had been expelled and to which they might by no means are looking to go back. among the widespread woman intellectuals and literary figures Barbara Hahn discusses are Hannah Arendt, Gertrud Kantorowicz, Rosa Luxemburg, Else Lasker-Schüler, Margarete Susman, and Rahel Levin Varnhagen. In reading their writing, she displays upon the query of the way German tradition used to be constructed--with its inherent styles of exclusion. this can be a publication approximately desire and melancholy, chances and preventions. We see makes an attempt at discussion among Christians and Jews, women and men, "Germans" and "Jews," makes an attempt initiated by way of those ladies that, for the main half, remained unanswered. ultimately, the booklet reconstructs the altering notions of the "Jewess," a key observe in smooth German historical past with its connotations of "salons," "beauty," and "esprit." And but a be aware that also is disastrous, during which there culminated every thing the dominant tradition condemned as dangerous.

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