Insightful look at the interactions between German and migrant Jewish writers and the creative spectrum of Jewish identity
Berlin in the 1920s was a cosmopolitan hub where for a brief, vibrant moment German-Jewish writers crossed paths with Hebrew and Yiddish migrant writers. Working against the prevailing tendency to view German and East European Jewish cultures as separate fields of study, Strangers in Berlin is the first book to present Jewish literature in the Weimar Republic as the product of the dynamic encounter between East and West. Whether they were native to Germany or sojourners from abroad, Jewish writers responded to their exclusion from rising nationalist movements by cultivating their own images of homeland in verse, and they did so in three languages: German, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Author Rachel Seelig portrays Berlin during the Weimar Republic as a “threshold” between exile and homeland in which national and artistic commitments were reexamined, reclaimed, and rebuilt. In the pulsating yet precarious capital of Germany’s first fledgling democracy, the collision of East and West engendered a broad spectrum of poetic styles and Jewish national identities.
Rachel Seelig is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto.
“Rachel Seelig’s magisterial achievement will undoubtedly command the admiration of a ramified readership, ranging from students and scholars of Jewish literature to those interested in literary and cultural theory.”
— Paul Mendes-Flohr, Professor of Jewish Thought at the Divinity School, The University of Chicago, and Professor emeritus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
“Strangers in Berlin significantly expands our knowledge and understanding regarding the fruitful engagement of Jewish writers in Berlin with German and Jewish literature and culture in the crucial interwar period. Considering prominent modernist writing by Jewish authors, Rachel Seelig’s original and eloquent work also significantly broadens our view of modernism as a multilingual, transnational movement.”
— Amir Eshel, Stanford University
Winner: Canadian Jewish Literary Awards (CJLA) 2017 Award, Yiddish category- CJLA Award
Read: Strangers in Berlin featured on the New Books Network Link | 9/25/2017