Friday, May 05, 2017

Review of Prochnik, Stranger in a Strange Land

BOOK REVIEW: A Writer Embraces the Scholar Who Introduced the Kabbalah to Secular Society. Alana Newhouse reviews:
Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem

By George Prochnik
Illustrated. 522 pp. Other Press. $27.95
It sounds like an oddly autobiographical biography. Nevertheless, it is at least nominally about Gershom Scholem, who nearly singlehandedly established Jewish mysticism as a scholarly discipline in the first half of the twentieth century. So PaleoJudaica takes note. One brief excerpt:
If you’re interested in experiencing the complex mix of thoughts and emotions I felt in that moment — challenged and stymied, satisfied and frustrated, amused, annoyed, tingling with a sensation so unnerving you might even call it hope — then pick up “Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem,” a new book by George Prochnik. To describe it as part biography and part memoir is to miss the point; it is instead a hunt through the crevices of one life in search of clues that might unlock the mysteries — intellectual, religious, political and psychological — of another.
One has to wonder if the title of the book is meant to evoke Valentine Michael Smith as well as the biblical Gershom.