New Cities for New Jews: Haifa as Futuristic Urban Fantasy in Theodor Herzl's Altneuland and Violent Guttenberg's A Modern Exodus

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Abstract

This essay explores the representation of the modern Jewish city in Palestine, envisioned in two fin-de-siècle futuristic tales: Theodor Herzl's Altneuland (1902) and Violet Guttenberg's A Modern Exodus (1904). Focusing on the northern port city of Haifa, transformed by the Jews from a poor Oriental town into a thriving Europeanized metropolis, both novelists employ the city's spatial, cultural, and human features to present radically different views concerning the national Jewish rejuvenation: for Herzl, it becomes a utopian triumph; for Guttenberg, a deplorable failure. Notwithstanding their different assessments of the Zionist vision, both authors share certain anti-Semitic assumptions about the nature of "the Jew" (greedy, intolerant, vulgar), which are inscribed into the urban space. Herzl's ideal Haifa is designed precisely to reform the diaspora Jew by introducing such modern urban measures that would render these detestable Jewish traits obsolete. Guttenberg's disordered city, in comparison, reflects an inability to alter the Jewish character: no wonder that London, not Haifa, becomes the final destination of her "Modern Exodus.".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-183
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2013

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