For nineteenth-century Eastern European Jews, modernization entailed the abandonment of arranged marriage in favor of the "love match." Romantic novels taught Jewish readers the rules of romance and the choreography of courtship. But because these new conceptions of romance were rooted in the Christian and chivalric traditions, the Jewish embrace of "the love religion" was always partial.
In The Marriage Plot, Naomi Seidman considers the evolution of Jewish love and marriage though the literature that provided Jews with a sentimental education, highlighting a persistent ambivalence in the Jewish adoption of European romantic ideologies. Nineteenth-century Hebrew and Yiddish literature tempered romantic love with the claims of family and community, and treated the rules of gender complementarity as comedic fodder. Twentieth-century Jewish writers turned back to tradition, finding pleasures in matchmaking, intergenerational ties, and sexual segregation. In the modern Jewish voices of Sigmund Freud, Erica Jong, Philip Roth, and Tony Kushner, the Jewish heretical challenge to the European romantic sublime has become the central sexual ideology of our time.
Stanford University Press; June 2016
- ISBN 9780804799621
- Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
- Title: The Marriage Plot
- Author: Naomi Seidman
Imprint: Stanford University Press
In The Press
"Naomi Seidman has written a provocative and important study that deftly theorizes Jewish secular modernity through the lens of sexuality. Moving beyond the paradigms of queer and postcolonial studies, The Marriage Plot locates a changing sexual world that articulated its own sexual and gender norms through an erotic recovery of Jewish tradition. In her lively and insightful readings of the modern Jewish canon, Seidman shows that the secularization of Jewish cultural life was far from a straightforward narrative of sexual progress and liberation for men and women."
About The Author
Naomi Seidman is Koret Professor of Jewish Culture at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow. She is the author of Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation (2006) and A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (1997).