A special Vienna issue…

Ruben Honigmann, in a text that is both funny and thorough, had already described in K. how he saw himself as the inheritor of a German-Jewish language that no one knows or even wants to know any more. He continues his introspection on the complexity of a kaleidoscopic Jewish identity by taking us this time to Vienna, the city of his legendary grandmother. This week, his new testimony questions, with humour and thoroughness as always, his desire to acquire all the identity papers he possibly can

Joel Whitebook’s text takes us to another Viennese childhood, that of Sigmund Freud, marked by his two mothers… Anna Freud, the daughter of Freud, confided that her grandmother was “devoted and proud of her [son], as all Jewish mothers are”. But who was the mother of the psychoanalysis inventor? And, for that matter, how many mothers did he have? Relatively little is known about Freud’s relationship with his mother figure, who built his work by exploring the continent of the fathers, the desire of his patients to kill or replace them and the often devastating psychic effects of this forbidden impulse. The mother, central as she is as a sexual object, is surprisingly absent as such. Freud’s own mother, when she appears in his writing, is highly idealised as a young, beautiful mother passionately devoted to her first-born son. Joel Whitebook, the author of an intellectual biography of Freud, challenges this myth of the ‘good and loving mother’ that Amalia would have been, the superstitious Galician Jewish mother who seems to have had a far greater influence on the development of psychoanalysis than Freud himself could have perceived. This week, K. publishes the first part of this analysis, which shows a complex Amalia facing her “Sigi”, before, next week, we meet Freud’s second mother, his Catholic “nannie”, old and ugly, but no less important for a young Freud in the midst of his sexual curiosity.

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Anna Freud, Freud's daughter, said that her grandmother was 'devoted to and proud of her [son], as Jewish mothers are'. The fact is that this mother, Amalia, a superstitious Galician who spoke mostly Yiddish, had predicted that her Sigmund, on whom she projected her dreams of greatness, would become a great man. But who was the mother of the founder of psychoanalysis? And, by the way, how many mothers did he have? Joel Whitebook, the author of an intellectual biography of Freud, challenges this myth of the "good, loving mother" that Amalia would have been. K. publishes this week the first part of his analysis of Freud's relationship to his mother figures. Next week we will meet Freud's second mother, his Catholic "nannie", old and ugly, but no less important for the young Freud in the midst of his sexual curiosity...

“I arrived in France when I was only one year old and waited 37 years to become French. I knew nothing about my homeland Germany, my Germanness was virtual, reduced to a language and a passport. The procedure was expeditious and I received my French birth certificate only six months after I started my naturalization process. Three days later, the dual citizen I had just become was again seized with identity-related restlessness and I contacted the Austrian embassy in Paris. Since 2019, Austria, like Germany, allows the descendants of victims of Nazism to recover the nationality of which their ancestor was deprived. This is my case. »

Is the revival of the Jewish community in Vienna a sign that a new form of diasporic Jewish existence is emerging? This is the stance of Julie Cooper and Dorit Geva who, following the schema of the historian Simon Dubnow, decipher the emergence in Europe of a new form of community, not nationalized, but inserted into a pan-European context. It could serve as a model, capable of becoming an alternative to the national form embodied in the State of Israel and that (perhaps in decline after having dominated) of American Judaism.

In 2015, the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the construction of a new Holocaust memorial and world-class learning center. Since then, the project has been racking up delays and stirring up various controversies. Journalist Liam Hoare investigated this project for K. and, more broadly, the issues of Holocaust remembrance policy in Britain.

2022 marks the 100th anniversary of Marcel Proust’s death. For the occasion, the “Jewish side” of the author of In Search of Lost Time is the focus of unprecedented attention. The Museum of Jewish Art and History (mahJ) in Paris is showcasing an exhibition “Marcel Proust. Du côté de la mère” (on display through 28 August), whose principal academic advisor is Antoine Compagnon. The professor at the Collège de France has published a book entitled Marcel Proust du côté juif (Marcel Proust: From the Jewish Side) devoted to analyses of the work that have focused on its “Jewish” aspect. After reading this excellent work, Milo Lévy-Bruhl presents Proust from a new angle: as a product of the competing impulses in modern Judaism of return and emancipation.

K. publie cette semaine un entretien réalisé par Antoine Nastasi avec Aharon Appelfeld en 2010, paru initialement dans la revue Esquisse(s). Nous avons demandé à Valérie Zenatti – sa traductrice française – de le lire et de le présenter. Elle nous a livré ce texte sur les langues d’Appelfeld, ou, autrement dit, sur la tension qui traverse le grand écrivain entre l’allemand, sa langue maternelle mais aussi celle des bourreaux, et l’hébreu, sa langue d’adoption dans laquelle il a construit une œuvre que sa mère n’aurait pas pu lire….

Israeli novelist and poet Aharon Appelfeld, born on February 16, 1932 in Jadova (near Czernowitz, then in Romania, now in Ukraine) and deceased in 2018 in Israel, never ceased to “translate” his experience as a child who survived the destruction of the Jews of Europe. We are pleased to publish in K. the interview – never translated in English – conducted by Antoine Nastasi in 2010. In it, Appelfeld speaks of writing and words, of the Hebrew “which has shaped the character of the Jewish people” and delves into his own linguistic travels, from the mother tongue of German to the adopted language of Hebrew, in passing by Yiddish.

Between the first and second rounds of the French presidential election, the voice of student protest made itself heard, first at the Sorbonne, then at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), where a building was defaced. The watchword of the movement at both institutions was the rejection of a binary choice between ‘fascism’ and ‘neoliberalism.’ But at the EHESS campus, where the students covered the walls in graffiti (much of it quite vitriolic), authorities noticed some antisemitic messages. The students explained themselves about this matter: “The occupation is antifascist and firmly condemns any antisemitic act. We erased the hateful drawings that unfortunately appeared on some of the walls, and we would have erased [the messages], had we seen them.”

Primo Levi died on April 11, 1987 in Turin. On the anniversary of his death, Giorgio Berruto revisits the events of his reception in Italy; in other words, the way in which the witness waited before being recognized as the great writer that he is, today unanimously celebrated.

The Judeo-Spaniards “of the East” – those of the former Ottoman Empire (as opposed to the Judeo-Spaniards “of the West” who were mostly in Morocco) – “know each other and recognise each other, but nobody knows them”, as Marie-Christine Bornes Varol explains to us, reminding us that in Turkey today, the motto of the Jews is “to live happily, let’s live in hiding”. A look back at a complex history, which took place in an equally complex geographical area and through a network of different languages. A story of the survival of a scattered micro-society, of which Turkey remains a center.

How does the story of Meursault in The Outsider – and especially the famous scene of his murder – circulate among various writers? From Albert Camus to Kamel Daoud, via A.B. Yehoshua and Edward Said, Beryl Caizzi has identified a set of repetitions and variations that reflect a secret theme on which the inextricable relations between the French, the Arabs and the Jews are projected and interpreted in every possible way.

On the 6th and 7th of April 1903, the first pogrom of Kishinev took place. Among the dozens and dozens of pogroms that were perpetrated in Eastern Europe between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, it has a particular significance. Its repercussions were immediate and worldwide, and even today it still has symbolic value. On the anniversary of the massacre, we are publishing selected excerpts from ‘Days of Affliction’ – a crucial account by a direct witness who, as a doctor and director of the Kishinev hospital, was also an actor in the event.

With the support of:

Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.