The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn


The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn

“A book of many pleasures: intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic.” —LINDA PASTAN
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Under Frederick the Great, every Jew who married was required to buy otherwise unsalable china from the royal porcelain factory. Moses Mendelssohn, a world-famous philosopher in the eighteenth century—a man remembered today as “the Jewish Socrates” and the grandfather of composers Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn—was forced, when he married, to buy twenty life-size porcelain apes.

Mendelssohn was a friend of Immanuel Kant; the first Jew to publish a book in German; and an advocate for Jewish engagement with the world. But, as Nordhaus writes in the afterword, “In ultrareligious circles he is disparaged as a secularist whose liberal ideas led Europe’s ghettoized Jews toward assimilation on the one hand, and the disaster of the Holocaust on the other.”

This book presents self-contained yet interconnected narrative poems that take the reader on a journey through Moses Mendelssohn’s life, from his childhood in an eighteenth-century Dessau ghetto to the pinnacle of his fame to his death at the age of fifty-seven, full citizen at last.

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5.5 × 7.44 × 0.25 in
3.9 oz

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