Die schöne Jüdin
Beautiful Jewesses have been among the stock figures featuring in literature in German for centuries. The present study is the first consistent attempt to typify the figure of the 'beautiful Jewess' by examining 70 novels and shorter narratives from four centuries. The 'beautiful Jewess' topos is the expression of a non-Jewish and non-female view, i.e. a view from the outside. The correspondingly stereotyped features of the literary image of the Jewess are traceable from Grimmelshausen to Heinrich Mann. In the history of this motif, we also find a reflection of the problematic nature of Jewish emancipation and assimilation in the course of time. Reference to public discourse on Jewish women and their role in state and society permits a reconstruction of the foundations underlying contemporary attitudes and collective opinion-forming mechanisms determining the image of the Jewess in literary works and the reception accorded to such figures.
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