The greatest modern Jewish writers—like the biblical prophets—grappled passionately with the dilemmas of political life. They wrote stories, poems, and novels—but for many of them, the real subject was the problem of Jewish weakness and the promise of Jewish sovereignty. How did these writers and thinkers understand the political behavior of the Jews, and how did they shape the spirit of modern Jewish nationalism?
Professor Ruth R. Wisse is the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature Emerita at Harvard and distinguished senior fellow at Tikvah. She is a winner of the National Jewish Book Award and was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush.
Professor Wisse’s books include The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Literature and Culture, Jews and Power, and No Joke: Making Jewish Humor. Her memoir, Free as a Jew: A Personal Memoir of National Self- Liberation was published last year. She is the editor or co-editor of numerous anthologies, including The I.L. Peretz Reader and The Best of Sholem Aleichem (with Irving Howe). Her essays on Jewish literature, culture, and politics have been published in Mosaic, the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and the Jewish Review of Books.