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Wege zur Geschichte und Literatur

Leopold Zunz’ jüdische Philologie der Weltliteratur, August Boeckhs Erkenntnis des Erkannten und Lessings Wolfenbütteler Bibliotheksschriften

Kathrin Wittler

Pages 413 - 431

In his essay ‘On Jewish Literature’, Leopold Zunz devised a transcultural concept of literature by combining metaphors of interlaced transmission with August Boeckh’s claim that philology ‘cognizes what has been cognized’. To put this theoretical concept into practice, Zunz consciously avoided urges to deliver grand historical narratives and instead advocated a micrological approach to literary history, modeling his collection of essays ‚Zur Geschichte und Literatur‘ (1845) after a book series of the same title, dating from the years 1773–1781, in which Gotthold Ephraim Lessing had presented treasures discovered in the library of Wolfenbuttel. Deeply rooted in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German philology, Zunz’s ideas for a Jewish philology of world literature, combining a high level of abstraction with micrological scrutiny, are relevant for contemporary debates in the field of General and Comparative Literature.


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