I think you read E's "is almost a miracle" to mean "is approaching
greatness." (You've changed it to "miraculous.") Julius begins by reading as
you do, but not as praise for the accomplishment -- as qualified and
patronizing surprise that a sub-human could create such works.
"'That a Jew can do this!' registers the surprise of the
anti-Semite." [Rick P's citation of the passage follows my
Notice that he quotes the exclamation. While he doesn't claim these are E's
words, the effect of the punctuation and the train of thought in the paragraph
is to elide the hypothetical bigot with Eliot in a way that, regardless of the
content, would be criticized in an undergraduate paper by all the professors I
By the end of the passage, Julius places E's miracle phrase into a setting
that changes its meaning. Now it means "who would a thunk it possible?".
The poetry of Isaac Rosenberg ... does not only owe its distinction
to its being Hebraic: but because it is in Hebraic it is a
contribution to English literature. For a Jewish poet to be able to
be able to write like a Jew, in western Europe and in a western
European language, is almost a miracle. [TSE]
He was able, by 'almost a miracle', to write in English 'like a
Jew'. [Rick's citation of Julius]
Can you see now how J reconciles Wagner and E?
As required in such discussions, my disclaimer: I mean only to understand
the question Tom posed about Julius and his two sources, not to comment on the
larger, more important, question.
Thomas Kissane wrote:
> I still don't see how Julius reconciles the fact that Wagner thinks Jews in
> Western societies cannot write as anything but Jews, while Eliot thinks it
> "miraculous" when they do precisely that.
[Rick P's transcription]
> > Anthony Julius
> > T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism and Literary Form
> > Cambridge University Press, 1995
> > pp. 101-2
> > Consider this remark of Eliot's:
> > The poetry of Isaac Rosenberg ... does not only owe its distinction to
> > its being Hebraic: but because it is in Hebraic it is a contribution
> > to English literature. For a Jewish poet to be able to be able to
> > write like a Jew, in western Europe and in a western European
> > language, is almost a miracle.
> > The two versions of libel I have just described are thus represented
> > by Bleistein and Rosenberg respectively. Eliot's eccentric praise of
> > the Jewish poet is consistent with his larger deprecations. 'That a
> > Jew can do this!' registers the surprise of the anti-Semite. What is
> > it like to write as a Jew? Richard Wagner explains: 'The Jew speaks
> > the language of the country in which he has lived from generation to
> > generation, but he also speaks it as a foreigner.' A Jew cannot
> > compose German music; when it purports to do so, he deceives. The
> > Jewish composer could only compose music as a Jew by drawing on the
> > 'cermonial music' of the synagogue service, a 'nonsensical gurgling,
> > yodelling and cackling'. These 'rhythms ... dominate his musical
> > imagination'; they are irrestible. So while the talented Jewish
> > composer is disqualified by his race from composing German music, he
> > is disqualified by his talent from composing Jewish music. Rosenberg
> > was luckier. He was able, by 'almost a miracle', to write in English
> > 'like a Jew'. The difference between Eliot's anti-Semitism and
> > Wagner's is defined, on this point, by the possibility of this
> > miracle.