Abstract

Introduction: What We Ask About When We Talk About Nineteenth-Century Jewish Literature

Nineteenth-century Anglo-Jewish literature engages a wide range of thematic and aesthetic preoccupations. This volume brings together several essays that highlight such breadth, even as the essays converge upon several questions that recur consistently throughout this literature: what does it mean to advertise one’s subjectivity, especially where the expression of such subjectivity is inflected by aesthetic and formalist concerns that are historically connected to English nationalism? Such questions are especially relevant when considered alongside the historical context: Jews in England did not achieve political emancipation until 1858, and they were widely regarded as racially other for much of the century. Jewish writers do not answer such questions with one voice; however, their political and cultural contexts put pressure on their aesthetic choices, and we explore these choices in the essays that follow.