Theodor Reik

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.

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Beneath

Over the summer, the man who sells books on the street across from my apartment had a volume of essays by Theodor Reik, Ritual: Psycho-Analytic Studies, first published in German in 1919. And in the last couple of weeks, the weeks of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I’ve taken a look at a long essay called “The Shofar.” I cannot say I understand more than a small part of what Reik is driving at in this elaborate exercise in High Freudian historical criticism.

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