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Book Reviews 171 "a policy ofideological hegemony." Under postwar law a person could be charged with conspiring with the enemy, but the original statute failed to cover the Vichy Regime's official antisemitism. This was, in part, rectified by a law passed in December 1985 which gave French courts the authority to hand down convictions for "crimes against humanity," providing the prosecution could demonstrate that such acts were committed on behalfof a regime which had such a policy of hegemony, that is on behalf ofNazi Germany. On all other crimes the statute oflimitations makes future trials impossible. Those treated the most harshly for such crimes were usually those who were caught and tried shortly after the war was over. Others who may have been equally or more culpable were, once passions had cooled, treated more leniently. Many slipped back quietly into the mainstream and resumed their careers. That was not so easy for the big fish, as shown by the cases of Rene Bosquet and Paul Touvier. Their time had run out. Wm. Laird Kleine-Ahlbrandt Department of History Purdue University The Imaginary Jew, by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O'Neill and David Suchoff. Lincoln: University ofNebraska Press, 1994 (c); 1997 (p). 201 pp. $12.00. The Wisdom of Love, by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O'Neill and David Suchoff. Lincoln: University ofNebraska Press, 1997. 151 pp. $25.00. These two volumes import French culture to North America. Published in 1980 and 1984 in France, they have a natural location in the intellectual world of Francealthough they disturb and criticize it in new and important ways. Arriving here almost fifteen years later, they are not so easily located. Clearly, these are not simply entries in the culture wars, nor are they Jewish Studies monographs. Their value, however, surmounts the question of placement because they represent a most readable introduction to a critical perspective on being Jewish and an ethics of responsibility which are still unfamiliar here. The importance of The Wisdom ofLove is more obvious. It is an introduction to the themes of the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995). Although many books of Levinas' have been translated and others have been published on Levinas' thought, he is still largely unknown. For the Jewish intellectuals in France, Levinas was a giantthe true leader of a resuscitation of Jewish thought and intellectual life. Levinas was both a philosopher, teaching at the Sorbonne and writing on phenomenology and metaphysics, and a Jewish leader, teaching in the community and training teachers for the Alliance Israelite Universelle. His ideas have had influence across a wide range of 172 SHOFAR Spring 2000 Vol. 18, No.3 European culture from Derrida and Lyotard to Liberation Theology, to the Solidarity movement in Poland, and so on. Finkielkraut does not present a discussion ofLevinas' thought in any systematic or exegetical manner. He takes Levinas' central concept, the face, and then explores how . it relates to other aspects of our culture: to love, to antisemitism, to revolutionary politics, and so on. Levinas himself was largely unwilling to engage in this interdisciplinary cultural motion. He retained his loyalty to philosophy and only occasionally wrote at length about literature or culture. Thus Finkielkraut accomplishes, in the French context, an extremely valuable task: he makes the philosophy speak to vital and vibrant issues in the contemporary culture. But this is not simply a question ofapplying a new idea, for the face opens a critical perspective on our world, and indeed in Finkielkraut's world even more obviously. Levinas' central idea is that I am responsible for the other person who faces me, that her face challenges me and puts in question my place in the world as well as my world view. The face is the way that the other person disrupts my image ofher. The face shatters the images I form; it is a breaking through the physiognomy of nose, eyes and mouth, calling me to respond. Levinas himself develops the philosophical (and theological) significance ofthis responsibility for the other person, daring to make the ethics of responsibility a First Philosophy, a point of orientation for all thinking and particularly for all discourse. The breakthrough in Levinas' thought is to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 171-173
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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