Feuchtwanger's Jud Süß and the Ambiguities of Jewish Political Power
This reading reassesses Feuchtwanger's novel Jud Su ss (1925) as historical fiction, focusing on the temporality of the events portrayed, rather than the era in which the author wrote. An examination of the motif of betrayal, intrinsic to the historical setting's characterization, lends insight into the novel's portrayal of Jewish political power as deeply ambivalent. Whereas previous scholarship has uncritically received Feuchtwanger's justification for writing the novel, I argue that the author's interest lay in his subject - the court Jew, Josef Su ss Oppenheimer - precisely as a historical Jewish figure. Through his protagonist, Feuchtwanger sought to probe dilemmas that confronted Jews torn between religious community and civil society. Ultimately, the novel espouses a pessimistic view of Jewish political power, and as response to the Jewish question, it exposes the insincerity of the state's offer of equal rights to Jews in exchange for relinquishing Judaism.
Cooper, Gabriel. 2017. "Feuchtwanger's Jud Süß and the Ambiguities of Jewish Political Power." The German Quarterly 90(3): 315-331.
Lion Feuchtwanger, Jud Su ss, Historical fiction, Jewish identity, Political power