Yuri Slezkine: Das jüdische Jahrhundert
With a foreword of Dan Diner. Translated from English by Michael Adrian, Bettina Engels and Nikolaus Gramm
Hardcover with dust jacket
Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
2nd edition, 2007
Price: 32,00 € (D)
In The Jewish Century, Yuri Slezkine has written a masterpiece of historical inquiry and essay. He combines historical and anthropological approaches as he attempts to universalize the question of the relation between the Jews and modernity. He terms the habitus of Jewish life worlds »Mercurian,« that of the agrarian farming population »Apollonian.« In the course of modernity, Slezkine argues, ever more human beings are changed into »Mercurians,« they become in a sense »Jews.«
Proceeding from these questions and metaphors in sociology around 1900, the book explores the alternatives open to Jews at the time. Revolutionary Russia is at the center of analysis. Slezkine, in both a sober and ironic manner, succeeds brilliantly in explaining the presence of Jews in the central spheres of the Soviet regime. He points to the attributes of their modernity, while avoiding the anti-Semitic discourse about Jews and Bolshevism. Linking together literary history, social history and the history of mentality, Slezkine sketches the paradigmatic Jewish experience in the twentieth century in a provocative and compelling way.
One chapter of the book already appeared in German as a Toldot volume entitled »Paradoxe Moderne«.
Yuri Slezkine is Professor for Russian History at the University of Berkeley, California.