Drawing on a wealth of medical and historical materials, Sander Gilman sketches details of the anti-Semitic rhetoric about the Jewish body and mind, including medical and popular depictions of the Jewish voice, feet, and nose. Case studies illustrate how Jews have responded to such public misconceptions as the myth of the cloven foot and Jewish flat-footedness, the proposed link between the Jewish mind and hysteria, and the Victorians' irrational connection between Jews and prostitutes. Gilman is especially concerned with the role of psychoanalysis in the construction of anti-Semitism, examining Freud's attitude towards his own Jewishness and its effect on his theories, as well as the supposed "objectiveness" of psychiatrists and social scientists.
Circumcision engages Jewish males in a powerful paradox: while establishing their religious and cultural identity, it marks them as profoundly different in others' eyes. This difference manifests itself in perceptions of the Jewish male's habits and physiognomy. No matter what tongue he speaks, the Jew's language is always different and therefore suspect. Even Christ's final words--those of a Jew in Aramaic--must be ``translated into Greek, Latin, German or English for the self-labeled Christian reader to understand.'' During the Austrian monarchy, Jews' feet were construed as weaker than other men's, disabling them from military service and signaling ``their inability to be full citizens.'' In three central chapters, Gilman demonstrates how Freud's theory of creativity, which holds that artists sublimate unacceptable characteristics, universalizes his experience as a Viennese Jew compelled to ``deny his essence'' into a property of the human psyche. Applying the techniques of literary criticism to predominantly European myths, documents and artworks, Gilman ( Jewish Self-Hatred ) has written an intriguing interpretive history of the Jewish male body. Illustrated. (Nov.)