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Discussion on "Altneuland" by Theodor Herzl.

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Introduction

Altneuland Theodor Herzl The novel "Altneuland" was written in 1902 by Theodor Herzl. One could see it as an illustration to his earlier book " Der Judenstaat"1. While "Der Judenstaat" contains the theoretical background of the Zionist idea, "Altneuland" describes how exactly the realization of that theory might look like. "Altneuland" is divided into five books, which might be seen as an analogy to the five books of the Torah. This also leads to the thought that "Altneuland" might be seen as the new torah, the new guide towards a new life, coexisting with the torah. Herzl wrote "Der Judenstaat" as a solution for the problems Jews encountered worldwide. He saw it as a national problem2 and therefore the only solution he could think of was the reunion of the Jewish people as one people3 in one national state, the Jewish state. By drawing the Jewish masses from their Diaspora states to a state of their own anti-Semitism would wane and the Jewish people would be recognized and honored as a nation like other nations4. So how does Herzl use his characters to depict anti-Semitism from different points of view? For the analysis book has to be divided into two parts. The first part contains the first of the five books. It deals with the life of the protagonist, Dr. Friedrich Loewenberg, in the year 19025 in Vienna. The second part contains the books two to five, the experiences of Loewenberg in the year 19236 in the new Jewish state. Herzl shows anti-Semitism from different points of view by choosing characters which can be seen as representative for a stereotype of a certain group of people. The protagonist Dr. Friedrich Loewenberg is a young assimilated Jew who suffers from the anti-Semitic attitude of early 20th century Austria7. His stereotype is already characterized by his name. Friedrich8 is a name derived from Old High German and was the name of several medieval kings, Prussian kings and German emperors. ...read more.

Middle

The character of Reschid tells the story of the new state from another point of view. Here speaks someone who belongs to the Muslim Turks and has been in the land even before the immigration of Jews started. His positive reception of the Jewish state is bound to make it clear to the reader that even the Muslim population will profit from the new state43 and anti-Semitism will not be an issue for them44. Besides Kingscourt, who is not practicing the Christian religion the reader is introduced to three other representatives of the Christian faith: An Anglican reverend, a Russian-Orthodox pope, and a Catholic monk. Not only will all of them participate in the Seder and, except for Reschid, everyone drinks the wine and partakes in the ritual45, but the Anglican reverend is even delighted to be taken for a Jew by Kingscourt46. He also makes the final comment about the new state being the spring of humankind and enabling people from different religions to celebrate and live together in harmony47. The remark of the orthodox pope even relates the new state to a Messianic age48. We also meet again the Viennese high society. Here we find Jews who fit the picture of anti-Semitic remarks49 but it is made clear that those people are the minority among the Jews and are also not favored. They serve as a contrast to the honest, diligent people who really built the land and are depicted as being stuck in their old behavior from times long gone50. One of them, Dr.Walter, gives a speech with the explanation how the foundation of the Jewish state reduced respectively vanished anti-Semitism, but Herzl makes it very clear that this character only repeats the thoughts and actions of others as his opinion thereby dragging his part of society even more into the ridiculous although not the topic of the speech51. The reader experiences everything through the main character of Loewenberg. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Kingscourt wuergte einige Deibel hinunter, hatte aber Humor und gute Lebensart genug, die sonderbaren Gebraeuche dern uebrigen Gaesten gleich zu befolgen. Die christlichen Seelsorger schlossen sich auch nicht aus." 46 "Altneuland", p.178. "...und er freute sich zum groessten Erstaunen Kingscourts, als dieser ihn zuerst irrtuemlich fuer einen Juden hielt." 47 "Altneuland", p. 209. "Reverend Hopkins erinnerte seine geistlichen Kollegen von den anderen Kirchen an den Osterstreit des Altertums, und wie sich all der muessige Hader nun in Harmonien aufgeloest habe. Heute koennten sie als Christen friedlich im Hause eines Juden zusammenkommen und naehme keiner Anstoss ans den Anschauungen des anderen. Denn ein Fruehling der Menschheit sei auferstanden 48 "Altneuland", p.209. " 'Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden!' sagte der Pope von Sepphoris." 49 "Altneuland", p.187. " '...die Juedinnen mit den Edelsteinen! Mir war schon bange danach. Ich dachte mir, das Ganze ist vielleicht doch eine Fopperei, und wir sind gar nicht im Judenland. Nun seh' ich erst, es ist wahr. Da sind die wandelnden Federhuete, die grellen Seidenkleider, die Juwelenisraelitinnen.' " 50 "Altneuland", p.188 " 'Geniert uns gar nicht, Mr. Kingscourt! Solche Bemerkungen konnten uns in frueheren Zeiten verletzen, aber jetzt nicht mehr, Sie verstehen? Frueher hat man die Promenadenjuengelchen, die Protzen und Juwelenhebraeerinnen als die Vertreter der Judenschaft angesehen. Jetzt weiss man, dass es auch andere Juden gibt. Jetzt koennen Sie ueber dieses Gelichter schimpfen, soviel Sie wollen, edler Fremdling! Wenn es finster wird, schimpfe ich mit.' " 51 "Altneuland", p.191 ff. 52 "Altneuland", p.256. "Kingscourt ass wacker mit von den ungesaeuerten Broten und schimpfte zwischendurch, dass man ihn, einen christlichen und deutschen Edelmann, ganz und gar verjude." 53 "Altneuland", p.18. " 'Ich seh' schon,' rief Laschner, 'wir werden alle wieder den gelben Fleck tragen muessen.' " 54 "Altneuland", p.288. "(Ueber den Orden der juedischen Akademie) 'Die Farbe aber soll uns an die schwersten Zeiten unserer Volksgeschichte erinern und uns noch im Erfolge zur Demut mahnen. Aus dem gelben Fleck, den unsere ungluecklichsten, standhaften Vaeter tragen mussten, aus dem Zeichen der Schande haben wir das Zeichen der Ehre gemacht.' " 55 "Altneuland", flyleaf, bold accentuation by me ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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