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A Knight at the Opera A: Heine, Wagner, Herzl, Peretz, and the Legacy of Der Tannhauser (Shofar Supplements in Jewish Studies) Paperback – October 1, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

The playing of Richard Wagner's music still evokes controversy because of the antisemitic German composer's appeal for Hitler. Garrett (Jewish civilization/historical studies, Monash U., Australia) presents a synopsis of his Tannhäuser opera, tracing of its sources to folklore, and analysis of how its nationalistic theme was ironically appropriated by three leading Jewish figures. In "Der Tannhauser" by Heinrich Heine, the German-Jewish poet satirized Christian ideas of sin and redemption. Zionist Theodor Herzl found inspiration in the opera for his manifesto for a Jewish state.

Polish-Yiddish storyteller Isaac L. Peretz reworked the opera to extol Jewish values in Mesires-nefesh (Self-Sacrifice). Discussion questions conclude the text. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)


“Leah Garrett’s A Knight at the Opera reveals the important role played bythe Tannhäuser legend in the work of Heine, Hertzl, and Peretz, demonstratingthat three of the greatest Jewish writers and thinkers of the pre-WorldWar I era were obsessed with a literary motif that was central to Germannationalism. At the core of this eye-opening work is Wagner’s great opera,with which each of the three writers had an unexpectedly intimate connection.”—Raymond Scheindlin, Professor of Medieval Hebrew Literature atThe Jewish Theological Seminary

About the Author

Leah Garrett is the Loti Smorgon Research Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life and Culture at Monash University, having previously been an associate professor of English and Judaic studies at the University of Denver. She received a PhD in Jewish literary studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She has published two previous books: Journeys Beyond the Pale: Yiddish Travel Writing in the Modern World (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003) and edited The Cross and Other Jewish Stories by Lamed Shapiro (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007).

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More About the Author

I was born in New York City, lived three years of my childhood in Niger, West Africa before moving to Boston, Massachusetts.

I am currently the Loti Smorgon Research Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life and Culture at Monash University. My research focuses on the relationships between Yiddish, English, German and Hebrew literature. I teach courses on 20th century American literature considering in particular the ties between ethnicity and poverty in contemporary life.

I am the author of:

Journeys Beyond The Pale: Yiddish Travel Writing In The Modern World

The Cross And Other Jewish Stories By Lamed Shapiro

A Knight At The Opera: Heine, Wagner, Herzl, Pertz and the Legacy of Der Tannhauser

and the forthcoming:

Young Lions: How Jewish Writers Invented The World War 2 Novel

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A Knight at the Opera A: Heine, Wagner, Herzl, Peretz, and the Legacy of Der Tannhauser (Shofar Supplements in Jewish Studies)
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