The Book in the Jewish World, 1700-1900

BookThe Book in the Jewish World, 1700-1900

The Book in the Jewish World, 1700-1900

Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

2007

May 31st, 2007

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This book offers the reader a voyage in the new world that opened up to the enlightened Jewish reader of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a time when the first glimmerings of emancipation and secular education were giving large numbers of Jews their first exposure to science, literature, and art, and opening their minds to new ideas. And as on any voyage led by a knowledgeable guide, there are fascinating side-trips along the way: insights into the world of scholarship, then and now, and into the nature of knowledge.
All this was happening at a time when Jews’ civil status and place in society was undergoing great change in Europe. In this seminal work, Zeev Gries shows that although the history of the book in the Jewish world has long been regarded as the province of librarians and bibliophiles, it is in fact the history of the Jewish intellect. He starts by tracing the awakening of a dormant Jewish intelligentsia—men, women, and children who were thirsty for knowledge. Books were the magic kiss that opened new doors to the modern world; within a century, Jews were making invaluable contributions to the advancement of science and of culture more generally. By surveying the literary output of those years, the author is able to discover what books were being published, where they were published and distributed, and who was reading them. He surveys the fields of halakhic literature, ethical literature, kabbalistic and mystical literature, literature for children and women, and more general literature. He talks about the role of libraries and of book reviews. Above all, he considers the role of books as agents of culture: were they guardians of hallowed sanctity or harbingers of secularization?
Gries shows how the types of books favoured by the Jewish reading public offer an insight into the changing nature of their ‘portable homeland’. He then goes on to discuss the Haskalah movement and the tensions between increasing secularization and the more traditional world-view, as well as how the resurrection of Hebrew as a secular literary language contributed to the awakening of Jewish nationalism. Nevertheless, he argues that the study of literary history of the period reveals that secular and Zionist leanings were not the only trends present; Jewish literature continued to be permeated with the spirit of religion.

Author Information

Zeev Gries is Professor in the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva. He taught previously at the Hebrew University Jerusalem and Boston University, and has been a visiting scholar at the British Library, the University of Washington, Seattle, Harvard University, and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. He published numerous articles on Jewish ethical literature, hasidism and the history of the Jewish book. His other books are 'Conduct Literature' (Regiman Vitae) and 'The Book in Early Hasidism.'

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover1
Contents14
List of Illustrations16
Note on Bibliographical Conventions and Transliteration17
Introduction20
PART I: THE AWAKENING OF THE NASCENT INTELLIGENTSIA30
1. Expanding Horizons32
2. On Reading and Readers39
3. Elite Literature: Halakhic Works and Textual Commentaries54
4. Ethical Literature in Hebrew and Yiddish65
5. On Libraries Private and Public76
6. Kabbalistic Literature and its Role in Hasidism88
7. Literature for Women and Children Only, or for Everyone?110
PART II: THE BOOK: GUARDIAN OF THE SACRED OR HERALD OF SECULARIZATION?120
8. The New Hebrew Literature: Continuity or Revolution?122
9. Jewish Books and their Authors in the Nineteenth Century132
10. Book Reviews in the Hebrew Press157
11. The Bibliographer and Librarian as an Agent of Culture: The Contribution of Abraham Ya’ari to the Study of Jewish Publishing in Eastern Europe173
Afterword: The Revolution in the World of Hebrew Books at the Start of the Twentieth Century200
Appendix: The Young Abraham Ya’ari210
Bibliography214
Index of Books and Periodicals246
A246
B246
C246
D246
E247
F247
G247
H247
I248
J248
K248
L248
M249
N249
O249
P250
R250
S250
T251
V251
W252
Y252
Z252
Index of Places253
A253
B253
C253
D253
E253
F253
G253
H253
I254
J254
K254
L254
M254
O254
P254
R254
S255
T255
U255
V255
W255
Y255
Z255
Index of People256
A256
B256
C257
D257
E258
F258
G258
H259
I259
J259
K260
L260
M261
N261
O261
P261
R261
S262
T263
U263
V263
W263
Y264
Z264
Index of Subjects265
A265
B265
C265
D266
E266
F266
G266
H266
I267
J267
K267
L267
M268
N268
O268
P268
R268
S269
T269
W269
Y269
Z270