By Michael Stanislawski
Autobiographical Jews examines the character of autobiographical writing through Jews from antiquity to the current, and the ways that such writings can legitimately be used as resources for Jewish historical past. Drawing on present literary thought, which questions the very nature of autobiographical writing and its courting to what we more often than not designate because the fact, and, to a lesser volume, the recent cognitive neurosciences, Michael Stanislawski analyzes a couple of the most important and complicated autobiographical texts written by way of Jews during the ages.
Stanislawski considers The existence by means of first-century historian Josephus; compares the early smooth autobiographies of Asher of Reichshofen (Book of stories) and Glikl of Hameln (Memoirs); analyzes the greatly diverse autobiographies of 2 Russian Jewish writers, the Hebrew Enlightenment writer Moshe Leib Lilienblum and the recognized Russian poet Osip Mandelstam; and appears at autobiographies written out of utter melancholy within the midst and within the wake of worldwide warfare II, Stefan Zweig’s the area of the previous day and Sarah Kofman’s Rue Ordener, Rue Labat.
These writers’ makes an attempt to painting their deepest and public struggles, anxieties, successes, and screw ups are expressions of a simple force for selfhood that's either undying and time-bound, common and culturally particular. The problem is to try to solve the wide awake from the subconscious distortions in those texts and to treat them as artifacts of people’ quests to make experience in their lives, at the start for themselves after which, if attainable, for his or her readers.
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Additional resources for Autobiographical Jews: Essays in Jewish Self-Fashioning
Panic-stricken and in great alarm, supposing that I had indoors a force outnumbering their own, and fearing, if they remained, to meet the same fate themselves, my opponents made off in haste. Such was the stratagem by which I eluded this second plot18 —one might say, a combination of Roman manly courage and a yidisher kop. And not just a yidisher kop but a pious one at that. 4. A short time later, the citizens of Tiberias, still loyal to the king, sent him a letter asking him to send troops to protect their territory, but, hedging their bets, at the same time asked Josephus to build fortiﬁcation walls to protect them.
The latter hypothesis was made most forcefully by the ancient Jewish historian Shaye Cohen in his Josephus in Galilee and in Rome, published in 1979. Here, Cohen subjected the Vita to a minute analysis, comparing its historiographical method with that of the Antiquities and the Jewish Wars, and not incidentally for our purposes, demonstrated that from the start of the Life to its close, Josephus misrepresented the facts of his life, as discernible in retrospect. Thus, the very opening of the autobiography is hugely problematic: My family is no ignoble one, tracing its descent far back to priestly ancestors.
We can be certain that neither Asher nor Glikl ever read Augustine’s Confessions or Modena’s unpublished manuscript, and so we cannot dismiss their confessions of sin and declarations of faith as mere literary tropes, just as we ought not confuse their expressions of angst and doubt as “arguing with God” as Natalie Zemon Davis does in an insightful but deeply ﬂawed chapter on Glikl in her Women on the Margins. For whatever reason, on some level profoundly unknowable to us, these two devout and yet all-toohuman Jews decided to put pen to paper to record their lives for posterity.