ENVISIONING JEWISH CENTRAL EUROPE: FRIEDRICH TORBERG, THE AUSTRIAN ÉMIGRÉS, AND JEWISH EUROPEAN HISTORY
This essay uses the Viennese remigré writer and journalist, Friedrich Torberg (1908-1979), his Austrian Jewish cohort, and their invented "Central Europe" and "Austrian Literature" to argue for a paradigmatic shift in émigré historiography. The cosmopolitan narrative predominating in émigré historiography has marginalized traditional Judaism. By shifting the focus from the German to the Austrian émigrés, and from the European nation state to the Austrian Empire, historians can reclaim traditional Jewish culture and pluralize the hegemonic narrative. Late imperial Austria, constitutionally federalist and ethnically and culturally diverse, made room for a Jewish national culture in ways that Germany did not. The Austrian émigrés shaped visions of Central Europe that foregrounded Jewishness and provided wider space for Jewish life than comparable visions of leading German émigrés. Yet, even Austrian émigré visions remained largely incognizant of rabbinic culture, the core of traditional Jewish life. To make traditional Jews agents of Jewish European history, European historiography must now move to incorporate rabbinic culture. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
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