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Empire Jews

Jewish Nationalism and Acculturation in 19th- and Early 20th-Century Russia


Publication Year: 2009

Published by: Slavica Publishers

Series: New Approaches to Russian and East European Jewish Culture

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 1-8

The essays in this book are linked by two main themes: I investigate Jewish intellectuals in tsarist and early Soviet Russia who attempted to fashion a modern, secular, and nationally acute Jewish identity; and I study the contributions to Russian culture by Jews who participated as absolute insiders. Instead of repeating the conventional...

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Part 1. Introduction

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pp. 11-12

Scholars of Russian-Jewish literature have had some trouble defining it. Any definition, however, would have to include elements such as whether the author of a work was Jewish, who the audience was, and whether the content reflected "Jewish concerns." However, the term "Jewish concern" is not at all clear. Could antisemitic...

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1. A Jewish Russifier in Despair: Lev Levanda's Polish Question

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pp. 13-35

Lev Levanda (1835-88) is commonly regarded as a leading advocate of the Russification of the Jews of the Russian empire, but in fact his ethnic attitudes were far more complex and conflicting than this stereotype allows. One of the sources of conflict were his ambivalent feelings about Poland and the Poles–a people unwillingly...

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2. Pacifism and Aggression in Shimon An-sky's Spiritual Evolution

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pp. 36-50

The zigzag trajectory of Shimon An-sky's life has propelled scholars to view him as plagued with paradoxes. One cause for this perception is his shifts in ideology. Before 1905 he defended armed revolution, then turned to pacifism and folklore studies, and then returned to support revolution. It can be shown, however, that...

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3. Poet and Nation: Fame and Amnesia in Shimon Frug's Literary Reputation

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pp. 51-64

Shimon Frug, the Russian- and Yiddish-language poet and Jewish nationalist, was apotheosized in his own time. But he was loved more for reasons having to do with the specific needs of his contemporaries than for the aesthetic quality of his poetry. Moreover, Frug's enormous reputation in his own time has not carried over to the...

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4. Russian-Zionist Cultural Cooperation, 1916-18: Leib Jaffe and the Russian Intelligentsia

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pp. 65-85

Because Jaffe attracted a group of Russia's most important poets and writers, including Valery Bryusov, Vyacheslav Ivanov, Aleksandr Kuprin, and Maksim Gorky, these volumes have lasting importance for Russian literature. Besides the luminaries of Russian culture already mentioned, Vladimir Korolenko, Fyodor...

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5. Hail to Assimilation: Vladimir "Ze'ev" Jabotinsky's Ambivalence about Fin-de-Siecle Odessa

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pp. 86-93

Vladimir Jabotinsky's novel Piatera (The Five; 1936) has bewildered the author's biographers. And rightly so: no matter how much one tries to read the novel through Zionist lenses it does not work. Shmuel Katz's 1,800-page political biography has only one reference to the novel, and it does not even appear in Katz's index...

Conceptualizing a Nation Apart: Politics and Historiography

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pp. 95

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Part 2. Introduction

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pp. 97-98

This section deals with so-called "liberal nationalists," historians, and civic activists, who strove to fashion a modern Jewish nation in the prerevolutionary period and at the same time promoted the integration of Jews in Russia. Ideologically they followed the lead of Simon Dubnov, who imagined a Russia where Jews were...

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6. "Dialogue" with Heinrich Graetz, Polemic with Avram Harkavy: Simon Dubnov's Struggle for the Domination of Russian-Jewish Historiography, 1883-93

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pp. 99-115

Simon Dubnov's relations with Heinrich Graetz reflect a nexus of intersecting tendencies of his life and thoughts in the key years when Dubnov was defining his mission in life. On the most surface level, Graetz's death sparked a strong emotional reaction, that of a student who finally decides to strive for intellectual...

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7. The Society for the Promotion of Enlightenment among the Jews of Russia and the Evolution of the Petersburg Russian-Jewish Intelligentsia, 1893-1905

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pp. 116-138

Established in 1863 by Baron Evzel Guenzburg and other wealthy Jewish merchants who had recently been granted the right to reside permanently in the capital, the Society for the Promotion of Enlightenment among the Jews of Russia (known as OPE, its Russian acronym) was the first-and for two decades the only...

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8. Henrik Sliozberg: A Mirror of Petersburg Jewry in Late Tsarist Days

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pp. 139-152

In Russia in the second half of the 19th century there appeared a significant group of Jews who, joining the Russian intellectual elite, began together with Russians to offer a liberal political alternative to the tsarist government. Such Jews lived primarily in St. Petersburg and worked as lawyers, doctors, engineers, and...

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9. Integration and Its Discontents: Mikhail Morgulis and the Ideology of Jewish Integration in Russia

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pp. 153-180

Mikhail Morgulis (1837-1912), a Jewish civic leader, journalist, and lawyer in Odessa, came of age in the 1860s, but lived until 19121-into the period dominated by Jewish nationalism. Holding firm to a faith in Jewish integration, in the last two decades of his life Morgulis shared the fate of many 1860s Jewish intellectuals, such...

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10. The Portrait of a Russian-Jewish Shtadlan: Jacob Teitel's Social Solution

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pp. 181-192

Jacob (Yakov) Teitel (1851- 1939), a Jewish judge, criminal investigator, and philanthropist, justifiably deserves the attention of historians of Russian Jewry. His career serves as a mirror of changes in the legal and occupational status of Jewish professionals in late-tsarist Russia. Entering the Ministry of Justice in the 1870s, after...

Jews in the Russian Elite

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pp. 193

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Part 3. Introduction

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pp. 195-196

This section deals with Russian Jews who became prominent contributing figures in Russian culture itself, such as Lev Shestov (Shvartsman), the Russian Jewish philosopher; Mikhail Osipovich Gershenzon, the noted historian and literary critic; and Aron Shteinberg, the philosopher and cultural observer. These individuals...

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11. A Jewish-Christian Rift in 20th-Century Russian Philosophy: N. A. Berdyaev and M. O. Gershenzon

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pp. 197-216

The Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 found the two friends, religious philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev and historian and philosopher Mikhail Gershenzon, on different sides of the conflict. Berdyaev's vehement opposition to the revolution ostensibly caused him to break off relations with the sympathizer Gershenzon. In...

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12. Mikhail Gershenzon: A Jew in the Russian Elite

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pp. 217-231

It was striking for his contemporaries that Gershenzon, a Jew, celebrated Russian national culture with his enthusiastic essays on Russian intellectual history. Indeed, Gershenzon was so well known as a sympathizer of conservative Russian culture that many referred to him as a "Slavophile." Indeed, an anecdote runs that...

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13. The Tension of Athens and Jerusalem in the Philosophy of Lev Shestov

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pp. 232-249

The reaction to Afiny i Ierusalim (1938), Lev Shestov's final book, on which he worked for at least ten years, is reflected by Bernard Martin, who observed in his introduction to Shestov's philosophy: "The essays and aphorisms of Afiny i Ierusalim represent, in many respects, the culmination of Shestov's entire lifetime of intellectual...

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14. Bringing Tidings to the Jews: Aron Shteinberg, Dostoevsky's Disciple

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pp. 250-256

The subject "Dostoevsky and the Jews" can be conceived in the broadest way as touching on antisemitism in Russia from the middle of the 19th to the first quarter of the 20th centuries. For the most part, the question has been formulated as a conundrum: How could Jewish readers, such as Avram Kovner, Leonid Tsypkin, Leonid...

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15. Sticking it to the Tsar: Jacob Schiff, Herman Rosenthal, and the American Fight against Tsarist Persecution of Jews

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pp. 257-272

After the Kishinev pogrom occurred on April 6-8, 1903, the Russian government tried to manage the international reaction by pretending that nothing serious had happened The Minister of the Interior, Vyacheslav Plehve, apparently succeeded in convincing the U.S. Ambassador of his point of view. In New York, by contrast...

Image Plates

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Selected Bibliography

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pp. 273-292


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pp. 293-305

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780893578497
E-ISBN-10: 0893578495
Print-ISBN-13: 9780893573492
Print-ISBN-10: 0893573493

Page Count: 305
Illustrations: 12
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: New Approaches to Russian and East European Jewish Culture

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Russia -- Intellectual life -- 19th century.
  • Jews -- Russia -- Intellectual life -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- Russia -- Identity -- History -- 19th century.
  • Jews -- Russia -- Identity -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- Cultural assimilation -- Russia -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- Cultural assimilation -- Russia -- History -- 19th century.
  • Russia -- Intellectual life -- 1801-1917.
  • Russia -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jewish nationalism -- Russia.
  • Russia -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 19th century.
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