The “Return” of Europe's Jews
ONE OF THE most puzzling recent developments on the European literary scene has been the growing popularity, in Central and Western Europe, of books on specifically Jewish themes. In Poland, France, Italy, Holland, and especially in West Germany, novels and other works, even if of a somewhat sentimental order which, before 1930, would have appealed almost exclusively to Jewish readers, have become best-sellers with a predominantly non-Jewish reading public.
The strange appeal of these books at this time raises questions: does their popularity represent a gesture of atonement or, rather, some morbid nostalgia for the absent victim? Is anti-Semitism actually dying out or, for a lack of Jews, must it now satisfy its appetite with fictional scapegoats? The fact that a good deal of this literature presents the most blatant Jewish stereotypes seems to give weight to the second possibility.
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