Feuchtwanger and Judaism, History, Imagination, Exile, ed. Paul Lerner and Frank Stern (the conference proceedings of the International Feuchtwanger Society 2015 conference) has just been published by Peter Lang, with a launch event at the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library, USC. The volume is devoted to the Jewish themes that ran through Lion Feuchtwanger’s life, works and worlds. Beginning with a selection of Feuchtwanger’s unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, the volume examines the author’s approaches to Jewish history, Zionism, Judaism’s relationship to early Christianity and to Eastern religions, and Jewish identity through his works, above all historical fiction.
The volume includes my paper ‘Caught Between Cultures: Lion Feuchtwanger’s Flavius Josephus’. Lion Feuchtwanger’s 1932 novel Der jüdische Krieg portrays Flavius Josephus as a young man caught between the conflicting cultures of Rome and Jerusalem and forced to make difficult choices. The novel also makes an implicit comment on the precarious position of European Jews in the early 1930s. In the paper I outline the principal elements and themes of the novel, and place it in the context of other German literary works of the period, in particular Hanns Johst’s Nazi play Schlageter. That play can fruitfully be lined up alongside Der jüdische Krieg since, like Feuchtwanger’s novel, it explores the psychology of a young man’s attitudes towards war and patriotism. Johst raises some of the same questions as Feuchtwanger, but from a proto-Nazi perspective: should a young man’s loyalty to his country override all other concerns, or should loyalty to values matter more? What kind of values matter, and in what kind of a nation?
— For analysis specifically of Jud Süss, see earlier conference (University of Amsterdam) entitled ‘The Many Guises of Jud Süss, The Image of “The Jew”: Joseph Süss Oppenheimer via Feuchtwanger to Goebbels and Beyond’.