David Nirenberg

Anti-Semitism in Western Music
December 21, 2012

The Music Libel Against the JewsBy Ruth HaCohen (Yale University Press, 507 pp., $55)   IN NOVEMBER 1934, Privy Councilor Wilhelm Furtwängler, vice president of the Third Reich’s Music Chamber and conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, imprudently took to the pages of the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung to defend the composer Paul Hindemith against the charge of “Jewishness” with which Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister for propaganda and enlightenment of the people, had justified a prohibition on the performance of his work.

When Philosophy Mattered
January 13, 2011

Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos By Peter E. Gordon (Harvard University Press, 426 pp., $39.95) I. The Swiss town of Davos was once famed as a sanatorium. It provided pastoral balm for mental breakdown (Ernst Ludwig Kirchner), relief from chronic illness (Aby Warburg), and an Alpine antidote to tuberculosis (Robert Louis Stevenson finished Treasure Island there). This concentration of ailing artists and intellectuals produced its own distinctive cultural life, immortalized by Thomas Mann in 1924 in The Magic Mountain.

Love and Capitalism
September 25, 2009

Caritas in Veritate: On Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth By Pope Benedict XVI (Ignatius Press, 157 pp., $14.95) I. Are we facing an economic crisis? I do not mean the crisis of the credit markets that has wiped trillions off the global balance sheet and plunged the world into recession. I mean a spiritual crisis, of which the crash is but a symptom. According to Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, we are in the midst of a “late capitalist . . .

Choosing Life
November 05, 2008

Memoirs By Hans Jonas Edited by Christian Wiese Translated by Krishna Winston (Brandeis University Press, 320 pp., $35)   The Life and Thought of Hans Jonas: Jewish Dimensions By Christian Wiese (Brandeis University Press, 292 pp., $50)   I. Hans Jonas was a philosopher, not a prophet, but his teachings speak as powerfully to our age of global warming, global markets, and Manichaean geopolitics as they did to the century of world wars in which he developed them.

Hope's Mistakes
February 13, 2008

  Living Together, Living Apart: Rethinking Jewish-Christian Relations in the Middle Ages By Jonathan Elukin (Princeton University Press, 193 pp., $24.95)  ALL HISTORIES have their sorrows,but those of Jewish history are more studied than most. The chronicles of Israel’s sufferings—the groaning under Pharaoh in Exodus, the Lamentations over lost Jerusalem, Isaiah’s consolations for her captivity—have helped the countless faithful of numerous religions explain God’s puzzling tendency to afflict his followers on earth.

Paleologus and Us
October 09, 2006

"Faith, Reason, and the University: Memories and Reflections"--the title seems an unlikely one for a papal speech that has triggered protests, even violence, across large parts of the Muslim world. Benedict XVI's remarks, made on September 12 at the University of Regensburg, where he was once a professor, have been denounced by the parliament of Pakistan, protesters in India, Iraq's Sunni leadership, the top Shiite cleric of Lebanon, the prime minister of Malaysia, and the president of Indonesia, among many others.