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?
Ruth Wisse is Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature Emerita at Harvard and distinguished senior fellow at Tikvah, where she writes regularly for Mosaic, teaches, lectures, and hosts the Stories Jews Tell podcast. Her books on literary subjects include an edition of Jacob Glatstein’s two-volume fictional memoir, The Glatstein Chronicles (2010), The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Literature and Culture (2003), A Little Love in Big Manhattan (1988), and No Joke: Making Jewish Humor (2013), a volume in the Tikvah-sponsored Library of Jewish Ideas with Princeton University Press. She is also the author of two political studies, If I Am Not for Myself: The Liberal Betrayal of the Jews (1992) and Jews and Power (2007). Her memoir, Free as a Jew A Personal Memoir of National Self- Liberation was published in 2021.