With things so calm, I'll spread around some accelerant to the forum.
Specifically, I found a review of Julius' "T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism and
Literary Form" that had run in "American Literary History." (It's cached at
I have not read Julius' book and don't wish, for current purposes, to return
to a debate on his ultimate conclusions. The lawyer in me, however, was
struck by one argument cited in the review that seems not to make sense. As
I know Julius is a respected attorney in Great Britain, I thought I'd pass it
along for others to defend or explain, if appropriate, and let me know if I
am missing something.
Julius cites Eliot as writing: "The poetry of Isaac Rosenberg . . . because
it is Hebraic . . . is a contribution to English literature. For a Jewish
poet to be able to write like a Jew, in western Europe and in a western
European language, is almost a miracle."
The review suggests that these words are thrown by Julius together with
Wagner's statement (among many) to the effect that: "The Jew speaks the
language of the country in which he has lived from generation to generation,
but he always speaks it as a foreigner." Unless I misread the review, it
appears to consider these as kindred thoughts.
To my readng, however, these statements are almost directly contrary. Both
deal with Jews and make general pronouncements about their relationship with
non-Jewish language systems, but there the similarity ends.
First, Wagner speaks in absolutes, while Eliot states a general rule in
recognizing an exception.
More crucially, Wagner posits that European Jews always write "as Jews"
(implicit in his statement that they always write "as foreigners"), even when
writing in the local, Europoean language. Eliot, on the other hand, says
that for an English Jew to write as a Jew in a European is "almost a
miracle." Their fundamental beliefs about the realtionship of European Jews
to European languages could hardly be more different.
Does anyone else who cares to consider the matter have an opinion as to what
Julius may have been trying to say here?