German-Jewish Thought and Its Afterlife

German-Jewish Thought and Its Afterlife

A Tenuous Legacy
Vivian Liska
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/19/2016
Format: Paperback 1 b&w
ISBN: 978-0-253-02485-5
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In German-Jewish Thought and Its Afterlife,Vivian Liska innovatively focuses on the changing form, fate and function of messianism, law, exile, election, remembrance, and the transmission of tradition itself in three different temporal and intellectual frameworks: German-Jewish modernism, postmodernism, and the current period. Highlighting these elements of the Jewish tradition in the works of Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt, and Paul Celan, Liska reflects on dialogues and conversations between them and on the reception of their work.She shows how this Jewish dimension of their writings is transformed, but remains significant in the theories of Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida and how it is appropriated, dismissed or denied by some of the most acclaimed thinkers at the turn of the twenty-first century such as Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, and Alain Badiou.

Author Bio

Vivian Liska is Professor of German Literature and Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. She is also Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Faculty of the Humanities at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is author of When Kafka Says We: Uncommon Communities in German-Jewish Literature.

Liska's academic bio is available here:


“In a highly sophisticated--but clearly written and accessible manner--Vivian Liska traces the impact of the Jewish tradition on modernist German-Jewish thought and provocatively points to the challenges facing this aspect of its legacy for our own time.”
 — Steven E. Aschheim, author of Beyond the Border: The German-Jewish Legacy Abroad

“Convincing, original, and well thought. A crowning achievement for one of the most astute and visible critics of Kafka and of German Modernism today.”
 — Jean-Michel Rabaté, author of The Pathos of Distance: Affect of the Moderns

“Liska's book conducts an insightful investigation into the history of ideas, and she is able to compare and contrast the wide range of thinkers under examination in clear, sophisticated, and nuanced ways. ”
 — Religious Studies Review

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Table of Contents


I Tradition and Transmission
1. Early Jewish Modernity and Arendt’s Rahel
2. Tradition and the Hidden: Arendt Reading Scholem
3. Transmitting the Gap in Time: Arendt and Agamben

II Law and Narration
4. "As if Not": Agamben as Reader of Kafka
5. Kafka, Narrative, and the Law
6. Kafka’s Other Job: From Susman to Žižek

III Messianic Language
7. Pure Languages: Benjamin and Blanchot on Translation
8. Ideas of Prose: Benjamin and Agamben
9. Reading Scholem and Benjamin on the Demonic

IV Exile, Remembrance, Exemplarity
10. Paradoxes of Exemplarity: From Celan to Derrida
11. Two Kinds of Strangers: Celan and Bachmann
12. Exile as Experience and Metaphor: From Celan to Badiou
13. Geoffrey Hartman on Midrash and Testimony

Epilogue: New Angels

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