Fragments of Redemption

Fragments of Redemption

Jewish Thought and Literary Theory in Benjamin, Scholem, and Levinas
Susan A. Handelman
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/1/1991
ISBN: 978-0-253-11337-5
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“A learned and subtle volume.” —Choice

“Handelman's comprehensive and penetrating treatment combines an interest in literary theory and modern Jewish philosophy.” —Moment

“Fragments of Redemption can serve as an illuminating guide to the course of modern Continental thought, as well as of the Jewish contributions to it . . . This very rich book demands reading and re-reading. It will do much to further understanding of the work of all three authors, and in particular to enhance the status of Levinas.” —Times Literary Supplement

Examining the messianic ideologies of Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, and Emmanuel Levinas—three of the most vital Jewish thinkers of our time— Handelman makes clear the considerable influence of traditional Jewish thought on modern and postmodern literary theory.

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Table of Contents

Note on Documentation and Style
List of Abbreviations

Part One: Gershom Scholem and Walter Benjamin

The Story of a Friendship: Germans and Jews
The Catastrophes of Progess

1. Language and Redemption
Language Critique
The Philosophical Quest for Language as Knowledge
“The Task of the Translator”
The “Pure Language”
Hermetic and Orphic Language
“Plenty of Hope, but Not for Us”
Scholem and Messianic Delay
Halakah and Aggadah: Anarchic Suspension and Historical Concretion

2. Suspended over the Abyss
“On Language as Such”
Interpreting Genesis
Hidden Ideologies in Debates over Theories of Language
Language, Materialism, and the Mimetic Faculty
The Meaningless Word and the Divine Nothing

3. The Legacy of German Idealism
Jewish Law and German Idealism
German Romanticism and “Spilt Religion”: The Symbol
Scholem and Symbol
The Symbol as Static or Dynamic

4. Allegory and Redemption
Benjamin and Scholem: The Politics of Historiography
Benjamin: The Critic as Allegorist and the German Tragic Drama
Faithfulness and Betrayal: Sacred and Profane
Benjamin’s Baroque Allegory and deMan’s Deconstructionist Criticism
The Return of the Symbolic: Hope for the Hopeless
Allegory and Modernity
Citing the Past

5. Memory Is the Secret of Redemption: Messianism and Modernity
History, Modernity, and Messianism
History Will Not Bring the Messiah
“My secularism is not secular”
The Angel of History

Part Two: Emmanuel Levinas

6. The Rupture of the Good
Levinas’s Background
Reason-for-the Other: Sources for Levinas’s Critique of Philosophy
Ontology and Violence: Ethics and Politics
Exteriority and Eschatology

7. The Trace, The Face, and the Word of the Other
Time and the Other
The Face, The Trace, and the Ethical Relation
Language and the Face: Rosenzweig’s Speech-Thinking
Subjectivity as Vulnerability: Language as Gift and Exposure

8. Pariodic Play, Prophetic Reason, and Ethical Rhetoric: Derrida, Levinas, and Perelman
Derrida’s Critique of Levinas
Skepticism and Philosophy
Rhetoric, Skepticism, and Violence: Levinas and Chaim Perelman
Philosophical Pairs and the Dissociation of Concepts
The Saying and the Said: A Subject of Flesh and Blood
Passivity: The Subject as Lung

9. GreekJew/JewGreek
“Here I Am”
The Witness and the Holocaust
The Holocaust: To Love the Torah More Than God
Ambiguous Revelation as Ethical Positivity
Inspiration, Revelation, and Exegesis
The Return of History
The Return of the Law
Levinas and Scholem: Mysticism, Myth, and Law
Ethics versus Aesthetics

10. Talmudic Messianism
Levinas’s Talmudic Lectures: Interpretive Methodology
Anachronism and Histroicism
Talmudic Messianism
Political Life or Moral Life: Redemption via Human or Nonhuman Action?
The Conditions for the Messiah: When Is The End of History?
Universal History and Its Ruptures
Who Is the Messiah?
History, Historicism, and Philosophy
The Possibility of a Modern Messianism

Conclusion: Before and beyond the Book
Revelation and Messianic Knowledge
Repairing the Broken Tablets

Works Consulted