Akim Volynsky: A Hidden Russian-Jewish Prophet Helen Tolstoy goes far beyond the accepted image of Akim Volynsky as a controversial literary critic of the 1890s who ran the first journal of Russian Symbolists, promoted philosophic idealism and proposed the first modernist reading of Dostoevsky. This book, through the study of periodicals and archive materials, offers a new view of Volynsky as a champion of Symbolist theater, supporter of Jewish playwrights, an ardent partisan of Habima theater and finally, a theoretician of Jewish theater. Throughout his life, Volynsky was a seeker of a Jewish-Christian synthesis, both religious and moral. His grand universalist view made him the first to see the true value of leading Russian writers – his contemporaries Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
In discoursing on music, three early modern Jewish scholars stand out for their originality. The first is Judah Moscato, who, as chief rabbi in Mantua, preached sermons, one of them on music: there Moscato presents music as a cosmic and spiritual phenomenon. The second scholar is Leon Modena, the foremost Jewish intellectual in early seventeenth-century Venice. Modena deals with music in two responsa to questions put to him for rabbinical adjudication, one of them an examination of biblical and rabbinical sources on the legitimacy of performing art music in the synagogue. Abraham Portaleone, the third scholar, treated music in a massive disquisition on the Ancient Temple and its ritual, describing it as an art correlating with contemporary Italian music. The introduction surveys the development of Hebrew art music from the Bible through the Talmud and rabbinical writings until the early modern era. The epilogue defines the special contribution of Hebrew scholars to early modern theory.
Walter Benjamin. Presence of Mind, Failure to Comprehend Stéphane Symons offers an innovative reading of the work of German philosopher, essayist and literary critic Walter Benjamin (1892-1940). Oftentimes interpreted as being either of a theological (Jewish-Messianic) or a materialist (neo-Marxist) nature, Benjamin’s writings are here characterized as "neither a-theological, nor immediately theological."
Starting from Benjamin’s philosophy of history, his interpretation of the work of Franz Kafka, his study on the German Baroque and his critique of modernity,
Walter Benjamin. Presence of Mind, Failure to Comprehend zooms in on the issue of how a belief in the possibility of redemption and an attentiveness [
Aufmerksamkeit] to expressions of an absolute force can endure within a universe that is nevertheless confronted as unfulfilled.