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Mixed FeelingsTropes of Love in German Jewish Culture$
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Katja Garloff

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704963

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704963.001.0001

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Interfaith Love and the Pursuit of Emancipation

Interfaith Love and the Pursuit of Emancipation

Moses Mendelssohn and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

(p.23) 1 Interfaith Love and the Pursuit of Emancipation
Mixed Feelings

Katja Garloff

Cornell University Press

This chapter reads Lessing's and Mendelssohn's reflections on interfaith love and marriage in the light of their interventions in the debates about Jewish emancipation. In Jerusalem (1783), Mendelssohn affirmatively cites the Judaic injunction against interfaith marriage while appealing to the “brotherly love,” or political goodwill, of his Christian readers. Lessing plots his famous plays on religious tolerance, The Jews (1749) and Nathan the Wise (1779), around impossible Christian-Jewish romances. The plays' logic is best described as one of incomplete sublimation, a redirection of erotic energies that never comes to a standstill and that thwarts any complacent vision of interfaith harmony. Both Lessing and Mendelssohn suggest that “affective kinship” may serve as a foundation of communities in which different religious groups enjoy political equality. At the same time, their awareness of the precariousness of such kinship— and of all interreligious love—enhances the appeal character of their texts.

Keywords:   Gotthold Ephraim Lessing Lessing, Moses Mendelssohn, interfaith love, interfaith marriage, Jewish emancipation, Jerusalem, The Jews, Nathan the Wise, religious tolerance, kinship

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