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Bestiarium JudaicumUnnatural Histories of the Jews$
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Jay Geller

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823275595

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823275595.001.0001

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“If you could see her through my eyes …”

“If you could see her through my eyes …”

Semitic Simiantics

(p.109) Chapter 4 “If you could see her through my eyes …”
Bestiarium Judaicum

Jay Geller

Fordham University Press

This chapter portrays the naturalized association of Jews with the mimetic as an identifier of “the Jew.” It first maps the once hegemonic stereotype of the Jews as a people without genius and the correlative assumption of “the Jew”‘s alleged mimetic capacity or talent for aping its hosts as Jews adopted various strategies in their pursuit of integration into European societies. It notes the influence upon the latter of Darwin’s discussion of mimesis as a natural survival strategy. The chapter records the convergence of stereotype and assumption in Richard Wagner’s and Otto Weininger’s discussions of Judentum and music that may, in turn, have been echoed in Kafka’s “Josephine the Singer.” Kafka’s account of Red Peter’s “Report to an Academy” then takes center stage against a backdrop of associations of Jews and apes. After tracing the Judentum-associated signifiers that inscribed Red Peter, the chapter follows Kafka’s simian protagonist as he, having attained the “cultural level of an average European” (DL 312; CS 258) and still in search of an Ausweg (a way out) of the brutal constraints of an increasingly violent society, performed the risky maneuver of the Jew-as-Animal

Keywords:   anti-Jewish stereotypes, apes, evolution, Jews and music, “Josephine the Singer”, Franz Kafka, mimesis, “Report to an Academy”, Richard Wagner, Otto Weininger

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