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Ante-Anti-Semitism: George Eliot’s Impressions of Theophrastus Such

  • Nancy Henry

Abstract

For some time now, literary critics have addressed Daniel Deronda and the eighteenth chapter of Impressions of Theophrastus Such — ‘The Modern Hep! Hep! Hep!’ — as important treatments of anti-Semitism in Victorian culture.1 But should it matter to us that George Eliot never used the term anti-Semitism? Does it make a difference to our description of these works that her attempt to identify and articulate the historical manifestations of Jew-hating came before their conceptual synthesis within a single category? The case of ‘The Modern Hep!’ suggests that the use of the now-current term ‘anti-Semitism’ is an obstacle to our interpretation of Eliot’s writing about Jews in late nineteenth-century England, oversimplifying and distorting her historical understanding of how inherited texts and habits combined to shape the national character of England, a character she thought was troubled by a history of irrational hatred.

Keywords

Jewish Identity Jewish Culture Ninth Edition Contemporary Reader Semitic Language 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Henry

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