February 10th, 2007

Jüdinnen (2)


By now we are almost accustomed in Western European stories, as soon as they try to encompass any groups of Jews, to seek out and find beneath or above the portrayal the solution to the Jewish question as well. But in Jüdinnen such a solution is not shown and not even attempted, since the very characters who are occupied with such questions stand farthest from the center of the story, where events turn more quickly, so that we can still observe them but no longer have a chance to get from them a calm report of their efforts. Suddenly we perceive this as a flaw in the story, and feel ourselves all the more justified in this dismissal since today, with the coming of Zionism, the possible solutions to the Jewish problem are so clearly laid out that the writer would, after all, only have needed a few steps to find the particular possible solution appropriate to his story.

This flaw arises from yet another. Jüdinnen lacks the non-Jewish onlookers, those respectable opponents who in other stories draw forth the Jewishness so that it pushes out against them, shifts into astonishment, doubt, envy, terror, and finally, finally into self-confidence, but in any case can straighten itself to its full length only against them. Just that is what we demand, we don’t recognize any another resolution of the Jewish material. And we don’t rely on such a feeling in this case alone, at least in one direction it is general. On a footpath in Italy, for instance, we are delighted when a lizard darts off exquisitely from our footsteps, we keep wanting to bend down, but if we see them at a shop by the hundreds, crawling over one another in the large glasses where pickles are usually kept, then we don’t know how to handle it

Both flaws combine into a third. Jüdinnen can do without that foremost youth who in such a story usually pulls the best things to himself and leads them outward, in a beautiful radial direction, to the borders of the Jewish circle. That is precisely what we won’t accept, that the story can do without this youth, here we sense a fault more than we see it.