The Jew's Body

Sander L. Gilman, Author Routledge $0 (303p) ISBN 978-0-415-90458-2
Circumcision engages Jewish males in a powerful paradox: while establishing their religious and cultural identity, it marks them as profoundly different in others' eyes. This difference manifests itself in perceptions of the Jewish male's habits and physiognomy. No matter what tongue he speaks, the Jew's language is always different and therefore suspect. Even Christ's final words--those of a Jew in Aramaic--must be ``translated into Greek, Latin, German or English for the self-labeled Christian reader to understand.'' During the Austrian monarchy, Jews' feet were construed as weaker than other men's, disabling them from military service and signaling ``their inability to be full citizens.'' In three central chapters, Gilman demonstrates how Freud's theory of creativity, which holds that artists sublimate unacceptable characteristics, universalizes his experience as a Viennese Jew compelled to ``deny his essence'' into a property of the human psyche. Applying the techniques of literary criticism to predominantly European myths, documents and artworks, Gilman ( Jewish Self-Hatred ) has written an intriguing interpretive history of the Jewish male body. Illustrated. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-415-90459-9
Hardcover - 316 pages - 978-1-138-14577-1
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