The Infrahuman: Animality in Modern Jewish Literature

SUNY Press
Free sample

 Argues that Jewish writers used depictions of Jews as animals to question prevalent notions of Jewish identity. 
The Infrahuman
 explores a little-known aspect in major works of Jewish literature from the period preceding World War II, in which Jewish writers in German, Hebrew, and Yiddish employed figures of animals in pejorative depictions of Jews and Jewish identity. Such depictions are disturbing because they sometimes rival common anti-Semitic stereotypes, and have often been explained away as symptoms of Jewish self-hatred. In this book, Noam Pines shows how animality emerged in Jewish literature not as a biological or conceptual category, but as a theological figure of exclusion from a state of humanity and Christianity alike. By framing the human-animal question in theological terms rather than in racial-biological terms, writers such as Heinrich Heine, S. Y. Abramovitsh, Hayim Nachman Bialik, Uri Zvi Greenberg, Franz Kafka, S. Y. Agnon, and Paul Celan subjected the pejorative designations of Jewish identity to literary elaboration and to philosophical negotiation.

“A work of stunning originality. Noam Pines revisits texts across the expanse of European and modern Jewish culture, excavating a preoccupation with Jewish animality that is no less illuminating than it is unsettling.” — Steven J. Zipperstein, author of Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History

“In this scrupulous and subtle book, Noam Pines shines new light on how animality, a well-worn theological figure of exclusion, can be seen afresh as a leitmotif of the intimate dialogue Jewish writers conducted with European literary traditions. With an exceptionally sure touch, Pines tracks this motif from Zionist literature through the postwar responses to Kafka’s legacy. The Infrahuman is a profound and highly commendable achievement.” — Vivian Liska, author of When Kafka Says We: Uncommon Communities in German-Jewish Literature and German-Jewish Thought and Its Afterlife: A Tenuous Legacy

The Infrahuman starts readers on an important journey from a place where we construct identities out of the cultural material that we would invent if that material had not already been provided: dichotomies (animal/human, Christian/Jew), other forms, images, things. Pines’s powerful readings of Heine, Abramovitsh, Bialik, Greenberg, Kafka, Agnon, and Celan may not teach us how to remember other alternatives, but they do call us to be attentive to the identificatory incapacities that have helped us forget how to live.” — David Metzger, coeditor of Chasing Esther: Jewish Expressions of Cultural Difference
Read more

About the author

 Noam Pines is Assistant Professor in the Department of Jewish Thought at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

Read more
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
Read more
Published on
Aug 1, 2018
Read more
Pages
202
Read more
ISBN
9781438470689
Read more
Language
English
Read more
Genres
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Literary
Literary Criticism / European / General
Literary Criticism / Jewish
Literary Criticism / Subjects & Themes / Nature
Social Science / Jewish Studies
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.