By Mikhail Krutikov
Wiener made a impressive profession as a Yiddish pupil and author within the Stalinist Soviet Union and left an unfinished novel approximately Jewish highbrow bohemia of Weimar Berlin. He used to be a super highbrow, a arguable philosopher, a devoted communist, and a very good Yiddish scholar—who for my part knew Lenin and Rabbi Kook, corresponded with Martin Buber and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and argued with Gershom Scholem and Georg Lukács. His highbrow biography brings Yiddish to the leading edge of the highbrow discourse of interwar Europe.
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From Kabbalah to classification fight is an highbrow biography of Meir Wiener (1893–1941), an Austrian Jewish highbrow and a scholar of Jewish mysticism who emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1926 and reinvented himself as a Marxist student and Yiddish author. His dramatic lifestyles tale deals a desirable glimpse into the complexities and controversies of Jewish highbrow and cultural heritage of pre-war Europe.
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Extra resources for From Kabbalah to class struggle : Expressionism, Marxism, and Yiddish literature in the life and work of Meir Wiener
He made a strong impact on the development of Meir Wiener’s personality and became the main hero of the memoirs, which are discussed in Chapter 9. Whereas the grandfather embodied the traditionalist aspect of Wiener’s upbringing, the grandmother and mother personified the opposite, secular side, as Franzi explains: Our grandmother Landau, née Korngold, came from an unorthodox background. It was her doing to send my mother to a finishing school which was a nunnery and I even suspect that my grandmother did not disclose the full fact to her orthodox husband.
The popular German-Jewish writer Jakob Wassermann exploited the opposition between two kinds of Jews, the negative “Europeans” and the positive “Orientals,” to criticize the assimilationist German-Jewish intelligentsia. ”61 The oriental Jew is a creative spirit with roots in a genuine tradition, as opposed to modern European Jews, impotent imitators of foreign cultures: “He is free; they are slaves. He is true; they lie. ”62 Yet Wassermann had to concede that at present the oriental Jew was merely a “symbolic figure,” an idea rather than a reality.
Herder seems to respect the “Asiatic” nature of Jews as an expression of their loyalty to their religious and historical heritage. Herder clearly separated the theological and political aspects of the integration of Jews into European society, admitting, at least in principle, the possibility of cultural integration without conversion. 17 Considering the great and manifold talents that Jews had demonstrated in the course of their long history, Herder was optimistic about the outcome of such a project.