In his new book with Palgrave Macmillan Dr. Sebastian Musch traces the entanglement of Buddhism and Judaism in German culture from the turn of the century up to World War II.
In Germany at the turn of the century, Buddhism transformed from an obscure topic, of interest to only a few misfit scholars, into a cultural phenomenon. Many of the foremost authors of the period were profoundly influenced by this rapid rise of Buddhism—among them, some of the best-known names in the German-Jewish canon. Sebastian Musch excavates this neglected dimension of German-Jewish identity, drawing on philosophical treatises, novels, essays, diaries, and letters to trace the history of Jewish-Buddhist encounters up to the start of the Second World War. Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Leo Baeck, Theodor Lessing, Jakob Wassermann, Walter Hasenclever, and Lion Feuchtwanger are featured alongside other, lesser known figures like Paul Cohen-Portheim and Walter Tausk. As Musch shows, when these thinkers wrote about Buddhism, they were also negotiating their own Jewishness.
The book contributes to the emerging field of Asian-German Studies and appeals to scholars of Jewish Studies, German Studies, Orientalism, and Postcolonial Studies.
“In this highly original and exciting study, Sebastian Musch calls attention to the German-Jewish fascination with Buddhism. His book is a superb work of scholarship that revises our conventional views of modern Jewish thought, Orientalism, and the importance of Buddhism for Europeans.” (Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College, USA)
“This exciting new work sheds light on key German-Jewish writers interested in Buddhism, placing them well within existing Asian German, Orientalist, colonial, and postcolonial scholarship. It is a superb book, a welcome addition to the field of Asian German Studies, and an excellent way to gain familiarity with the field.”( Douglas T. McGetchin, Associate Professor of History, Florida Atlantic University, USA)