New Book | The Jewish Eighteenth Century: A European Biography

Posted in books by Editor on September 25, 2022

To those observing Rosh Hashanah, very warm wishes for the year ahead! CH
And a book that I should have posted much earlier, from Indiana UP:

Shmuel Feiner, The Jewish Eighteenth Century: A European Biography, 1700–1750, translated by Jeffrey Green (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020), 560 pages, ISBN: ‎978-0253049452 (hardcover), $95 / ISBN: 978-0253049469 (paperback), $40.

The eighteenth century was the Jews’ first modern century. The deep changes that took place during its course shaped the following generations, and its most prominent voices still reverberate today. In this first volume of his magisterial work, Shmuel Feiner charts the twisting and fascinating world of the first half of the 18th century from the viewpoint of the Jews of Europe. Paying careful attention to life stories, to bright and dark experiences, to voices of protest, to aspirations of reform, and to strivings for personal and general happiness, Feiner identifies the tectonic changes that were taking place in Europe and their unprecedented effects on and among Jews. From the religious and cultural revolution of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) to the question of whether Jews could be citizens of any nation, Feiner presents a broad view of how this century of upheaval altered the map of Europe and the Jews who called it home.

Shmuel Feiner is Professor of Modern Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University and Chairman of the Historical Society of Israel. He is author of Haskalah and History; The Emergence of a Modern Jewish Historical Consciousness; The Jewish Enlightenment; Moses Mendelssohn, Sage of Modernity; and The Origins of Jewish Secularization. Jeffrey M. Green is a professional writer and translator who lives and works in Jerusalem. He is author of Thinking through Translation and Largest Island in the Sea.



Introduction: Happy Times? The First Century in the Modern Age

I. 1700
1  Pictures from Married Life: Glikl the daughter of Leib between Hamburg and Metz
2  ‘Rise up and Succeed’: Absolutism and Court Jews in Baroque Culture
3  Jews in the News: The Angry Masses, a Holy Society, and ‘Judaism Unmasked’
4  Between Enlightened Thought and an Imaginary Universe

II. 1701–1725
5  ‘Everyone Wants to be Happy’: Dangers and Amusements
6  ‘Our Miserable Brethren’: Jews in Time of War
7  Melancholy, Career, and Travels: Five Life Stories
8  Christians versus Jews: Bitter and Violent Relations
9  From London to Jerusalem: Confrontations and Disputes
10  The Challenge of Sabbateanism: The Storm over the ‘Hypocritical Serpent’
11  Competition over the Picture of the World: Witches and Human Knowledge

III. 1725–1750
12  To Silence the ‘Fellow from Padua’: Moses Haim Luzzatto and the Great Awakening
13  Criticism and Ambition: From Gulliver to the Baal Shem Tov and Jew Süss
14  Contradictory Tendencies: Hostility, Violence, and ‘True Happiness’
15  ‘An Indelible Stain’: War and Expulsion
16  A Vision of the Future: Ascent of the Soul, a Path for the Just, and a Teacher of the Perplexed
17  Toward Mid-Century: The Awakening of Shame


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