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Title: Between German and Hebrew : approaches to language in the writings of Gershom Scholem, Werner Kraft and Ludwig Strauss
Author: Barouch, Lina
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 6161
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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My thesis examines the ways in which the German-Jewish writers Gershom Scholem, Werner Kraft and Ludwig Strauss dealt with the linguistic dilemmas and opportunities, which they encountered as a result of their German-Jewish cultural location and emigration or exile. Born in the 1890s they were exposed to ideas like the 'sprachbestimmte Kulturnation', to Modem Hebrew in the framework of the Jewish Renaissance, and to language scepticism in modernist writing. How did they contribute to these debates? Did linguistic dislocation between 1923 and 1935 result in mute resignation, literary paralysis or in a burst of creativity? I argue that Scholem, Kraft and Strauss developed unique linguistic counterstrategies: Hebraist lamentation, Germanist steadfastness and polyglot dialogue, respectively. In his early writings Scholem advanced from the idea of the 'lamentation of language' to the idea of the 'retaliation of language', as expressed in 'Uber Klage und Klagelied' (1917) and 'Bekenntnis uber unsere Sprache' (1926). These performative texts wished to counteract the secularisation and instrumentalisation of Hebrew in the hands of Zionists in Germany and Jerusalem. Kraft envisaged himself as a guardian of the German language in the face of cultural decline and political turmoil and sought inspiration from the restorative projects of Rudolf Borchardt and Karl Kraus. After flight and settlement in Jerusalem in 1935 Kraft's Germanist scholarship became a practice of defiant re territorialisation. In Germany Strauss attempted to negotiate between his Germanist and Hebraist pursuits while avoiding stereotypical mediatory roles. His political and poetological essays display a close affinity to the dialogical ideas of Buber and Holderlin. After emigration in 1935 a series of bi -lingual poems that negate linguistic purisms and cultural boundaries granted his dialogical poetics a more subversive dynamic. These three divergent linguistic counterstrategies were nonetheless grounded in a shared conviction about language as a constitutive force and moral indicator in the world, and in an unceasing engagement with the question of German-Jewish identity in Germany and in Palestine and later Israel.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available