Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

7 - Bad Jew/Good Jewess


Nineteenth-century literary culture has, in recent years, proved a rich resource for antisemitism studies. From the satanic imagery with which Dickens surrounds his Jewish archcriminal Fagin to Trollope's suspicion of assimilated arrivistes to the racial terror invoked by Bram Stoker's Dracula at the fin de siècle, research has uncovered the persistent threads of hostility to Jews that found expression in novels. And thanks to the work of Sander Gilman, we also know how widely discourses of the diseased and degenerate Jewish body were disseminated through medical and sociological as well as literary texts in the period. What is equally striking about this scholarship, however, is its almost universal assumption that “the Jew” in the text is male. When Todd Endelman writes, for example, that the intellectual arsenal of European antisemitism can be reduced to “a handful of accusations about Jewish character and behavior: Jews are malevolent, aggressive, sinister, self-seeking, avaricious, destructive, socially clannish, spiritually retrograde, physically disagreeable, and sexually overcharged,” the Jew in such descriptions is implicitly masculine. Perceptions of Jews, indeed, are frequently seen as projections of anxieties about masculinity. As Gilman writes in The Jew's Body, his focus is on “an image crucial to the very understanding of the Western image of the Jew at least since the advent of Christianity”: “the male Jew, the body with the circumcised penis.” Where the Jewish woman has been the object of study, masculinity has still been the focus.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Cheyette, Bryan, Constructions of “the Jew” in English Literature and Society: Racial Representations, 1875–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993
Ragussis, Michael, Figures of Conversion: “The Jewish Question” and English National Identity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995
Halberstam, Judith, “Technologies of Monstrosity: Bram Stoker's Dracula,” in Sally Ledger and Scott McCracken, eds., Cultural Politics at the Fin de Siècle (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)
Malchow, H. L., “Vampire Gothic and Late-Victorian Identity,” in Gothic Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996)
Freedman, Jonathan, “The Temple of Culture and the Market for Letters: The Jew and the Way We Write Now,” in The Temple of Culture: Assimilation and Anti-Semitism in Literary Anglo-America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)
Davison, Carol Margaret, “Britain, Vampire Empire: Fin-de-Siècle Fears and Bram Stoker's Dracula,” in Anti-Semitism and British Gothic Literature (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)
Hoeveler, Diane Long, “Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya: The Gothic Demonization of the Jew,” in Sheila A. Spector, ed., The Jews and British Romanticism: Politics, Religion, Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
Pick, Daniel, Svengali's Web: The Alien Enchanter in Modern Culture (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2000
Felsenstein, Frank, Anti-Semitic Stereotypes: A Paradigm of Otherness in English Popular Culture, 1660–1830 (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995
Garber, Marjorie, Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (London: Penguin, 1993
Pellegrini, Ann, Performance Anxieties: Staging Psychoanalysis, Staging Race (New York: Routledge, 1997
Prell, Riv-Ellen, Fighting to Become Americans: Jews, Gender, and the Anxiety of Assimilation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999
Antler, Joyce, You Never Call! You Never Write! A History of the Jewish Mother (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007
Chase, Jefferson, “The Wandering Court Jew and the Hand of God: Wilhelm Hauff's Jud Süss as Historical Fiction,” Modern Language Review 93, no. 3 (July 1998): 724–40
Ockman, Carole, “‘Two Eyebrows à l'Orientale’: Ethnic Stereotyping in Ingres's Baronne de Rothschild,” Art History 14, no. 4 (1991): 521–39
Valman, Nadia, The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007
Ephraim, Michelle, Reading the Jewish Woman on the Elizabethan Stage (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008
Scult, Mel, Millennial Expectations and Jewish Liberties: A Study of the Efforts to Convert the Jews in Britain, up to the Mid Nineteenth Century (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1978
Ragussis, Michael, Figures of Conversion: “The Jewish Question” and English National Identity (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 1995
Rendall, Jane, The Origins of Modern Feminism: Women in Britain, France and the United States 1780–1860 (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1985
Brendlah, Madame, Tales of a Jewess: Illustrating the Domestic Manners and Customs of the Jews: Interspersed with Original Anecdotes of Napoleon (London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co., 1838
Feldman, David, Englishmen and Jews: Social Relations and Political Culture 1840–1914 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994
Eliot, George, Daniel Deronda (1876; repr., London: Penguin, 1995
Arnold, Matthew, Culture and Anarchy (1868; repr., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1935
Franklin, Jeffrey, “The Victorian Discourse of Gambling: Speculations on Middlemarch and The Duke's Children,” ELH 61 (1994): 899–921
Reed, John R., “A Friend to Mammon: Speculation in Victorian Literature,” Victorian Studies 42 (1999): 227–55
Rosenberg, Edgar, From Shylock to Svengali: Jewish Stereotypes in English Fiction (London: Peter Owen, 1961)
Tracy, Robert, Trollope's Later Novels (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978
Linehan, Katherine Bailey, “Mixed Politics: The Critique of Imperialism in Daniel Deronda,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 34, no. 3 (1992), 323–46 (325)
Wohlfarth, Marc E., “Daniel Deronda and the Politics of Nationalism,” Nineteenth-Century Literature 53, no. 2 (1998): 188–210
Lesjak, Carolyn, “Labours of a Modern Storyteller: George Eliot and the Cultural Project of ‘Nationhood’ in Daniel Deronda,” in Ruth Robbins and Julian Wolfreys, eds., Victorian Identities: Social and Cultural Formations in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1996)
Valman, Nadia, “‘A Fresh-Made Garment of Citizenship’: Representing Jewish Identities in Victorian Britain,” Nineteeth Century Studies 17 (2003): 35–45
Gallagher, Catherine, “George Eliot and Daniel Deronda: The Prostitute and the Jewish Question,” in Ruth Bernard Yeazell, ed., Sex, Politics and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Novel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986)
Marshall, Gail, “George Eliot, Daniel Deronda and the Sculptural Aesthetic,” in Actresses on the Victorian Stage: Feminine Performance and the Galatea Myth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)
Litvak, Joseph, “Poetry and Theatricality in Daniel Deronda,” in Caught in the Act: Theatricality in the Nineteenth-Century English Novel (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991)
Semmel, Bernard, George Eliot and the Politics of National Inheritance (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994