In 1930, Hungarian- born Jewish author Arthur Holitscher’s book Wiedersehn mit Amerika: Die Verwandlung der U.S.A. (Reunion with America: The Trans-formation of the U.S.A.) was reviewed by one J. Raphael in the German- Jewish Orthodox weekly newspaper, Der Israelit. This reviewer concluded: “Despite its good reputation, America is a strange country. And Holitscher, whose relationship to Judaism is not explicit, but direct, has determined that to be the case for American Jews as well.” The reviewer’s use of the word “strange” (komisch) offers powerful insight into the complex perceptions of America held by many German- speaking Jews, which in 1930 were at best mixed and ambivalent. An earlier travel book by Arthur Holitscher (1869– 1941) from 1912 depicts America more favorably, though it is widely believed to have provided inspiration for Franz Kafka’s unfinished novel, Amerika: Der Verschollene (Amerika or The Man who Disappeared, published posthumously in 1927), which famously opens with a description of the Statue of Liberty holding aloft a sword rather than a torch. [excerpt]
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Wallach, Kerry. "America Abandoned: German-Jewish Visions of American Poverty in Serialized Novels by Joseph Roth, Sholem Asch, and Michael Gold." In Three Way Street: Germans, Jews, and the Transnational. Eds. Jay Howard Geller and Leslie Morris. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016. 197-219.
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