New Book Release: Exclusion, Exile, and the Wandering Jew in Jewish Literature, by Regine Rosenthal

Exclusion, Exile, and the Wandering Jew in Jewish Literature

Based on a medieval extrabiblical Christian legend, the figure of the Wandering Jew has long served as a negative representation of all Jews. Condemned by Christ to endless wandering and everlasting life, the Wandering Jew has lived on ever since in literature and criticism as a legendary and symbolic paradigm, ranging from anti-Jewish stereotype to the generalized cultural Other. While Romanticism took him outside of the Jewish context, nineteenth-century antisemitic racism again adopted the figure in an evolving discourse that culminated in his image in Nazi propaganda as the despicable, racialized cultural Other who needed to be exterminated.

The present work takes up this trope in all its complex, intersecting facets and shifts the focus of the inquiry from the perspective of the dominant culture to that of the Jewish Other. Starting with nineteenth-century American popular and mainstream writers, it explores the responses to, and the subversions and reinventions of, the paradigmatic figure in works by a variety of European, Canadian, and American Jewish writers and thinkers. It also opens the discussion to the broader issues of contemporary society and politics, such as pervasive uprootedness, transborder migration, the plight of refugees, and states' rights versus human rights.

Exclusion, Exile, and the Wandering Jew in Jewish Literature
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, February 2024

Regine Rosenthal, Visiting Associate Professor for MALS