Cite: Jessen, Kastein and the Troublesome Persistence of a Canon of German Literature in Palestine

Jessen, Caroline. "‘Vergangenheiten haben ihr eigenes Beharrungsvermögen …’ Josef Kastein and the Troublesome Persistence of a Canon of German Literature in Palestine/Israel." Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 57 (2012): 35-51.

URL: http://leobaeck.oxfordjournals.org/content/57/1/35.short

Extract

Some literature – the persistent canon – was a repository for generational memories (as any re-reading of Schiller’s plays could bring back to mind, for example, memories of family recitals and school assignments). This literature was nevertheless responsive to readings through the lens of Zionist ideology: it could stand criticism based on heteronymous values. Last but not least, it provided readers with aesthetic pleasure. The canon gained strength from its usefulness as some sort of flexible social or symbolic capital, from being a depot for fundamental values.Thus, despite the problematic relationship many immigrants had with their cultural baggage, literature was functionalized as a bridge between past and present in order to provide recourse for people who felt fundamentally in between homes and in between the ‘identities’ they imagined or longed for.

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