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Gershom ScholemAn Intellectual Biography$
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Amir Engel

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226428635

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226428772.001.0001

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The Man and the Image

The Man and the Image

(p.199) Chapter 7 The Man and the Image
Gershom Scholem

Amir Engel

University of Chicago Press

The concluding chapter of this book sets out to discuss the difference between Scholem’s image and his portrait, as it was painted in throughout the book. And it sets to explain Scholem’s enduring presence in our cultural imagination. Scholem had an immensely successful career, but at the same time, he too was struck by the historical turmoil. His family was torn apart fleeing Germany and his brother Werner was killed in Buchenwald. His best friend, Walter Benjamin, killed himself on his way to safety. His political and spiritual vision – to renew the Jewish people – has never come to pass. Here too, unforeseeable historical events had the upper hand. Quite different than a theologian, philosopher, and mystic (terms that are evoked concerning Scholem) this book has set him in historical context as a human being. But as such, it is furthermore argued, Scholem’s attempts to wrestle with the fundamental questions of modernity – about exile and home coming, statehood and anarchy, politics and religion – are all the more fascinating. This then is the reasons for Scholem’s enduring success: not the answers that he provided (which are marginal at best) but his insistence of asking.

Keywords:   history, World War Two, family, Jews, Germans, mysticism, politics, Jerusalem, WWII

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