Moses Mendelssohn: Sage of Modernity

Shmuel Feiner. Yale Univ., $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-300-16175-5
Feiner, a professor of Modern Jewish History at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, presents an all-encompassing biography of Mendelssohn, a prominent 18th-century Jewish intellectual. From his early life as a child prodigy to an adulthood of serious study, notoriety, and wealth, Feiner paints a complete portrait. As a child, Mendelssohn had a remarkable capacity for learning, accompanying his rabbi and mentor to Berlin for advanced Torah studies. Although the Prussian economy was tightly controlled by Christians, Mendelssohn was allowed to stay for his scholarship and in virtue of the prominent family with whom he was boarding. Mendelssohn's intellectual interests soon expanded beyond Torah study, and he familiarized himself with the sciences and philosophy of his day. In his early twenties, he began publishing his own ideas, famously challenging other respected thinkers, which brought him respect, a reputation, and fortune. Feiner describes Mendelssohn's intellectual and social ascent in a tight, concise narrative, supported through preserved documents like Mendelssohn's correspondences between his friends and family. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011
Release date: 11/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 222 pages - 978-3-525-35097-3
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