Benjamin Disraeli

Front Cover
Nextbook, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 257 pages
Part of the Jewish Encounter series

A dandy, a best-selling novelist, and a man of political and sexual intrigue, Benjamin Disraeli was one of the most captivating figures of the nineteenth century. His flirtation with proto-Zionism, his ideas about power and empire, and his fantasies about the Middle East remain prophetically relevant today. How a man who was born a Jew--and who remained in the eyes of his countrymen a member of a despised minority--managed to become prime minister of England seems even today nothing short of miraculous.

In this compelling biography, renowned poet and critic Adam Kirsch looks at Disraeli as a novelist as well as a statesman, recognizing that the outsider Jew who became one of the world's most powerful men was his own greatest character. Though baptized by his father at the age of twelve, Disraeli was seen--and saw himself--as a Jew. But her created an idea of Jewishness to rival the British notion of aristocracy.

Disraeli was a figure of fascinating contradictions: an archconservative who benefited from England's liberal attitudes, a baptized Christian who saw Jewishness as a matter of racial superiority, a perennial outsider who dreamed of glory for England, which, in the words of one contemporary, became for Disraeli "the Israel of his imagination."

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User Review  - bigmoose - LibraryThing

This was probably not my best choice for an introduction to Benjamin Disraeli. As part of the Jewish Encounters Project, this work intends to address his Jewishness above all other issues. Nonetheless ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Adam Kirsch, a book critic for The New York Sun, is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New Republic. He is the author of two poetry collections, The Thousand Wells and Invasions, and two works of nonfiction on poetry, The Wounded Surgeon and The Modern Element. He lives in New York City.

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