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Theodor Herzl, a Portrait for This Age, edited and with an introduction by Ludwig Lewisohn

- Abstract

Zionist pamphlets, like Zionist seminars, have always been boring affairs. Now that Zionist aims have been fulfilled, the boredom is even more deadly. Consequently the late Ludwig Lewisohn’s Theodor Herzl, a Portrait for This Age might very well have passed unnoticed even by reading Zionists, which would have been regrettable indeed because this book deserves a better fate than to collect dust. Lewisohn’s essay is probably the most definitive and certainly the most concentrated study so far produced in all the mounting literature on Herzl.

Herzl first appears in Lewisohn’s portrait as the pampered son of a well-to-do Viennese family that lived in an atmosphere of hot and brooding intimacy. As a boy his only playmate was his older sister. He was strongly attached to his parents, so much so that even during his most hectic adult days he never failed to pay them a daily visit when in Vienna. Though he loved his father (whom he later visualized as one of the first senators of the Jewish state), his special devotion was to his mother; she seems to have been the one who fostered his ambition to become a great man in the German world of letters. This maternal attachment made Herzl “far too pure,” made him fiercely puritanical, unrelenting, petulant, proud, and rigid; it was to spoil his marriage.

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