Disraeli and Orientalism: Identity of Culture, Race, and Religion through his Romanticism of a "Jewish Race"

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Ness, Joshua
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This study of Benjamin Disraeli examined the development of his Romantic identity of Jewishness through literature and politics during several crucial periods of his life. His struggles in youth with culture, race, and religion as a Christian convert from Judaism led him to travel with blooming promise of a 19th century Romantic. Thrilled by his Grand Tour, his early novels reflected a self-analytical creation of a Jewish and English identity, which was conceivably Eastern in nature. His Young England trilogy transposed his struggle of identity into a "Judaic-Christian" vision of faith for the English imagination, transfiguring the history of English tradition with a basis of Jewish inspiration. Through positively reversed Orientalism and discourse of the popular biblical "Holy Land," the English and British imagination came to develop a popular respect for this eccentric politician of Jewish origin. However, even under popular respect, his Jewish persona was a subject of anti-Semitic cartoons and works of his political opposition during the 1870s and the Eastern Question. This study reflects the power of imagination behind historiographical tradition in history.
Disraeli, Benjamin,|d1804-1881; Orientalism