The Conversion of Herman the Jew: Autobiography, History, and Fiction in the Twelfth Century

  • Title: The Conversion of Herman the Jew: Autobiography, History, and Fiction in the Twelfth Century
  • Author: Jean-Claude Schmitt Alex J. Novikoff
  • ISBN: 9780812222197
  • Page: 108
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Conversion of Herman the Jew Autobiography History and Fiction in the Twelfth Century Sometime toward the middle of the twelfth century it is supposed an otherwise obscure figure born a Jew in Cologne and later ordained as a priest in Cappenberg in Westphalia wrote a Latin account
    Sometime toward the middle of the twelfth century, it is supposed, an otherwise obscure figure, born a Jew in Cologne and later ordained as a priest in Cappenberg in Westphalia, wrote a Latin account of his conversion to Christianity Known as the Opusculum, this book purportedly by Herman, the former Jew may well be the first autobiography to be written in the West afteSometime toward the middle of the twelfth century, it is supposed, an otherwise obscure figure, born a Jew in Cologne and later ordained as a priest in Cappenberg in Westphalia, wrote a Latin account of his conversion to Christianity Known as the Opusculum, this book purportedly by Herman, the former Jew may well be the first autobiography to be written in the West after the Confessions of Saint Augustine It may also be something else entirely.In The Conversion of Herman the Jew the eminent French historian Jean Claude Schmitt examines this singular text and the ways in which it has divided its readers Where some have seen it as an authentic conversion narrative, others have asked whether it is not a complete fabrication forged by Christian clerics For Schmitt the question is poorly posed The work is at once true and fictional, and the search for its lone author whether converted Jew or not fruitless Herman may well have existed and contributed to the writing of his life, but the Opusculum is a collective work, perhaps framed to meet a specific institutional agenda.With agility and erudition, Schmitt examines the text to explore its meaning within the society and culture of its period and its participation in both a Christian and Jewish imaginary What can it tell us about autobiography and subjectivity, about the function of dreams and the legitimacy of religious images, about individual and collective conversion, and about names and identities In The Conversion of Herman the Jew Schmitt masterfully seizes upon the debates surrounding the Opusculum the text of which is newly translated for this volume to ponder fundamentally the ways in which historians think and write.

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    About Jean-Claude Schmitt Alex J. Novikoff


    1. Jean Claude Schmitt born March 4, 1946 in Colmar is a prominent French medievalist, the former student of Jacques Le Goff He studies the socio cultural aspects of medieval history in Western Europe and has made important contributions in his use of anthropological and art historical methods to interpret history His most significant work has dealt with the relationships among elites and laymen in medieval life, particularly in the realm of religious culture, where he has focused on ideas and topics such as superstition, the occult and heresy in order to flesh out the differing world views of the lay peasantry and the clerical elites who attempted to define religious practice He has contributed numerous books, articles and encyclopedia entries on these and related topics He has also written widely on the cult of saints, the idea of adolescence, visions and dreams, and preaching.Among Schmitt s best known works translated in English are The Holy Greyhound 1983 , about the strange cult of a holy dog in medieval France, and Ghosts in the Middle Ages 1998 about notions of death, the afterlife and paranormal visions in medieval culture Both works are considered important examples of historical anthropology, or the use of methods and approaches borrowed from anthropology and other social sciences to investigate the past Schmitt has argued that this has helped correct for the tendency among medievalists in the past to focus on elites, political institutions and narrative history to the exclusion of the lower classes and their less well documented experiences of life.Schmitt is currently Director of Studies at the cole des Hautes tudes en Sciences Sociales and directs the society of professional historians, Groupe d Anthropologie Historique de l Occident M di val.


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