Each week this summer, K. brings you a selection of four articles that have already appeared in our pages, but which have been brought together for the occasion around a few key themes. This week: four first-person essays by Ruben Honigmann, Mona El Khoury, Danny Trom and Grigory Kanovitch.
A major figure in global intellectual debate, Jürgen Habermas is the author of a monumental body of philosophical work that can be read as the theoretical basis of the European political ideal since the Second World War. The consciousness of German crime and the Jewish contribution to European philosophy over its long history occupy a fundamental place in his thinking. This is what recalls this essay by philosopher Bruno Karsenti, conceived as a tribute. It is also a tribute to what the European spirit, as extended by Habermas, can still bring to today’s Jews.
Vladimir Jankélévitch was born 120 years ago, in 1903. The first biography of the French philosopher, and Resistance fighter who went underground in 1941, was published this year. Avishag Zafrani examines a number of aspects of his relationship with Jewish consciousness after the Shoah, based on an interpretation of Jewish time as distinct from tragic time.
The great translator André Markowicz had never heard of ‘The Jews’, a forgotten play by Evgeny Tchirikov, written in 1903 after the pogrom of Kishinev. He translated it into French and had it published by Mesures. In partnership with Akadem, we have produced an interview – with English subtitles – which gives an account of the importance and singularity of this work.
In a magnificent biography, Reiner Stach brings to light, with scientific meticulousness and a rare narrative brilliance, a Kafka in colour, caught up in his intimate contradictions and those of his time. In this first volume, devoted to the years 1910-1915, the reader follows step by step his discovery of Yiddish theatre, the consolidation of his vocation as a writer and his attempt to establish a love and marital bond with Felice Bauer through a monumental epistolary relationship. A meeting with Reiner Stach, who renews our vision of Kafka and our perception of the biographical genre.
After taking over the direction of the Jewish Museum in Vienna (JMW) on July 1, Barbara Staudinger and her team of curators had less than five months to put together their first exhibition: “100 Misunderstandings about and between Jews”. Since its opening at the end of November, the exhibition has been attracting audiences. A look back at a controversy not seen in a European Jewish museum for a decade.
In Communist Romania, Jews were traded for pigs, calves or cows. This is how Sonia Devillers’ grandparents – as she recounts in Les Exportés (Flammarion, September 2022, not yet translated into English) – were able to pass to the West. A picture of blood and guts emerges from Romania: after being slaughtered by hand, the surviving Jews were worth just about the price of the animals for which they were exchanged.
At the Jewish Museum in Hohenems, Austria, an exhibition with the strange title “‘Taxidermied Jews?” History, present and future of Jewish museums”. “Taxidermied Jews?” The phrase refers to the ancient words of a president of the Jewish community in Vienna who did not want a museum in which Jews could be admired as “Taxidermied Indians”. In the context of the debate opened by the exhibition at the Hohenems Museum, Cilly Kugelmann, the former program director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, questions the very notion of a “Jewish museum.”
“My novels are a kind of Litvak saga, a monument to the memory of the Lithuanian Jews who have passed away. This is how Grigory Kanovich likes to describe his work. Born in June 1929 in Janova to a Yiddish-speaking Jewish family, he has published many short stories and ten novels, translated into many languages. Last August, in the form of a four-part serial, K. published the first French translation — by Elena Guritanu — of “Poor Rothschild”. At the beginning of this year, we continue the Jewish saga of this prolific 94-year-old Lithuanian writer with the story “I dreamed of Vilnius, the lost Jerusalem”, written as a tribute to Wilno, the Jerusalem of Lithuania. In the preface to this reading, Elie Petit and Elena Guritanu retrace his journey for K.
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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.