Hannah Arendt





The Jewish Writings is a collection of Arendt’s articles and essays written between 1932 and 1966. For this reviewer, they come as a revelation. I had never understood, exactly, the mental road Arendt traveled to get to the pronouncements for which she has been both celebrated (the reality of men trumps the concept of Man), and damned (evil was ordinary; the Jews were to be held accountable). To read the book straight through is to see clearly the origin and steady development of the single critical insight that informed much of Arendt’s subsequent work: namely, that the world is what we ourselves make it. The need to breathe free is a given; the right to do so is not. Among human beings, the will to power is an embodied force that continually challenges the right of those not like ourselves to occupy space. Under no condition is the one-not-like-oneself free to ignore the challenge. What’s more, the challenge must be resisted in the terms in which it is flung down. As Arendt put it, “When one is attacked as a Jew one must respond not as a German or a Frenchman or a world citizen, but as a Jew.


About Kate Thwaite

I love writing , conversation, art, wild flowers, music and air.And books
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