Culture

Ulysses is now one hundred years old. James Joyce’s novel was published in its original full text in Paris on February 2, 1922. Leopold Bloom is one of the two main characters of the book. Fans of Joyce’s cult novel have never ceased to speculate about the identity and personality of this son of a Hungarian emigrant, converted to Catholicism and baptized three times. Jewish or not Jewish, Leopold Bloom? Or rather what kind of Jew? Mitchell Abidor investigates the biography and beliefs of one of Ulysses’ heroes.

Adolfo Kaminsky, born in 1925 in Argentina, has become a legend: the resister and forger known for specializing in the manufacture of false papers during World War II. He wanted to be a painter, he became a secretive photographer, reluctant to show his work. A clandestine life, in his art as in his commitments: after the war, he makes false papers for the Haganah, he is the forger of the networks of support for Algerian independence in the 1950s and 1960s, that of the revolutionaries of South America as well as opponents of dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Greece… The philosopher Elisabeth de Fontenay attests to her admiration. 

Barbara Honigmann portrays the writer Jakob Wassermann (1873-1934), who expresses the unease of a generation at the beginning of the twentieth century at the idea of being both Jewish and German – or of not really being either one or the other. Wassermann said he believed in a possible symbiosis of the two identities, while deploring the condition of the Western Jew of his time, cut off from his past. Barbara Honigmann’s text plunges us into the heart of a tension experienced as an internal tug of war.

Mendy Cahan is an actor, singer, and collector of books, all in Yiddish… He has stored 90,000 of them in an unlikely location in the Tel Aviv bus station. The piles of accumulated books seem to hold up the walls. And it is in this piece of Eastern Europe stuck in a zone of the Middle East that those who frequent this place gather to revive a Yiddish language that has become a minority in the middle of Hebrew. Visit the Yung Yiddish and meet its creator.

Published in 1876, Daniel Deronda is a unique novel in the history of 19th century English literature. Raised in an aristocratic household, Deronda longs to discover his true origins. Who are his real parents? A chance meeting draws him into Whitechapel and the world of British Jews, with whom he has a growing affinity, before eventually discovering the remarkable story of his own birth. Set at the zenith of Victorian England, George Eliot’s last novel displays a deep empathy towards British Jews, while also laying out the author’s firm proto-Zionist sympathies. How did she pull off this singular feat? And why?

July 1942. Robert Klein is a Parisian art dealer who takes advantage of the Occupation to enrich himself on the backs of Jews forced to sell the pieces of art they own at low prices. One day, he receives a copy of “Information Juive” in his name. But isn’t Klein a good French Catholic? Who is this double? Is it a misunderstanding? A manipulation? Klein goes in search of this Other… and thereby of himself. Jean-Baptiste Thoret revisits Joseph Losey’s film on the occasion of its release on Blu-ray and an edited volume commenting this masterpiece made in 1976.

From June to October, the Museum of Jewish Art and History (mahJ) in Paris presented an exhibition of the Jewish artists of l’École de Paris, the famous French artistic movement of the interwar period. The exhibition was based on Hersh Fenster’s work “Our Martyred Artists” published in 1951 in Yiddish and which, for the occasion, was translated into French. A true memorial to the artists who died during the Shoah, Fenster’s book reveals the place of Jewish painters in the Paris art world of the Roaring Twenties. The art dealer Nadine Nieszawer and Paul Salmona, current director of the mahJ evoke these artists of the “lost shtetl of Montparnasse”.

Hannah Arendt is one of the major intellectual figures of the 20th century. A volume of the prestigious ‘Cahiers de l’Herne’ devoted to Arendt has just been published in French.  The volume introduces the French public to writings that had not been published in their language and invites all of us to discover new facets of Hannah Arendt, political theorist, committed thinker of her time, and Jewish intellectual. Avishag Zafrani, for K and Akadem, spoke with the philosophers Martine Leibovici and Aurore Mréjen who edited this publication. They discuss Arendt’s links with Heidegger, her reflections on political anti-Semitism, her relationship to Zionism…

Born in Germany, from which she fled to London, the narrator of “The Appointment” pours out her heart while being examined by her gynecologist, Dr. Seligman. Resolutely provocative, mixing sexual fantasies about Hitler with sharp insights into our contemporary society, the novel is a satirical parable over which the shadow of Philip Roth, Woody Allen and Thomas Bernhardt hovers.

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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.