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Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew$
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Jeffrey S. Librett

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262915

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262915.001.0001

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Figuralizing the Oriental, Literalizing the Jew:

Figuralizing the Oriental, Literalizing the Jew:

From Letter to Spirit in Friedrich Schlegel’s On the Language and Wisdom of the Indians

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(p.52) Chapter 2 Figuralizing the Oriental, Literalizing the Jew
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Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew
Author(s):

Jeffrey S. Librett

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823262915.003.0003

This chapter illustrates the Orientalist application of medieval typology in German romanticism, examining crucial aspects of Friedrich Schlegel’s On the Language and Wisdom of the Indians. The argument focuses first on Schlegel’s discussion of language (deconstructing his famous, but often inadequately understood distinction between organic and mechanical languages), then on his discussion of Indian philosophy (where his polemic against Oriental pantheism emerges), and finally on his treatment of the historical question. Here, Schlegel explicitly argues that Indian culture is the prefiguration of the Judaeo-Christian fulfillment. This crucial argument is always overlooked or undervalued in the scholarship. I show how it attempts to efface the undecidability of identity and difference that has governed and disfigured Schlegel’s argument at crucial points throughout.

Keywords:   identity and difference, mechanical and organic, Sanskrit, pantheism, India, materialism, idealism, Catholicism

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