"Buchmendels Untergang": The Ostjude and the Assimilated Jew in Stefan Zweig’s Buchmendel

Translated title of the contribution: Buchmendel's Downfall: The Ostjude and the Assimilated Jew in Stefan Zweig’s Buchmendel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

Abstract

Like many assimilated Jews in pre- and interwar Austria, Stefan Zweig subscribed to the stereotypical dichotomy of Eastern and Western Jewry, believing that the traditional ways of the Ostjuden, the newly arrived Jews from the eastern Habsburg provinces, had little to do with his own identity as a Jew in the tradition of Moses Mendelssohn and the Enlightenment. Hannah Arendt’s criticism of Zweig soon after his death for what she called his self-delusion that a Jew could assimilate and thrive as a ‘European’ between 1881 and 1942 has largely been followed by critics, who have judged Zweig for persisting in the belief that anti-Semitism was not directed at assimilated Jews well into the 1930s. In contrast, this paper contends that in Zweig’s interwar novella 'Buchmendel' (1929) we can already detect a nascent understanding that the increasingly virulent anti-Semitism in Austria and Germany will not only affect unassimilated Jews from the east such as the novella’s protagonist, but also assimilated Jews such as the narrator, and indeed the author. The unexpected parallels that emerge between the protagonist and the narrator reveal a shift in Zweig’s thinking about his own Jewishness in the late 1920s.
Translated title of the contributionBuchmendel's Downfall: The Ostjude and the Assimilated Jew in Stefan Zweig’s Buchmendel
Original languageGerman
Title of host publicationTopos Österreich | Topos Austria
Subtitle of host publicationAustralisches Jahrbuch für germanistische Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft
EditorsFranz-Josef Deiters, Axel Fliethmann, Alison Lewis, Cat Moir, Christiane Weller
Place of PublicationGermany
PublisherRombach Verlag
Pages67-81
Number of pages15
Volume13
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-96821-649-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-96821-648-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameLimbus: Australian Yearbook of German Literary and Cultural Studies
ISSN (Print)1869-1021

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