This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book reads love stories such as Romeo and Juliet together with political and philosophical texts that invoke the idea of love in order to rethink the relations between different social groups. It argues that these texts together constitute a discourse of love that accompanied Jewish emancipation and assimilation in the German-speaking countries from the beginning. The focus is on romantic love, which is defined as the powerful attraction between two individuals and the basis of a potentially lifelong relationship. The chapter argues that because romantic love shares a semantic domain with terms such as friendship, family affection, and neighbor-love, literary love stories can proffer a sociopolitical commentary, and political texts can mobilize the rhetoric of love.
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