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The Paradox of the Savage: A Comparison between Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" and Yehuda Horowitz's "Amudei Beit Yehuda" / גלגולי פרא — השוואה בין 'רובינזון קרוזו' לדניאל דפו ו'עמודי בית יהודה' ליהודה הורוויץ

איריס אידלסון and Iris Idelson
Historia: Journal of the Historical Society of Israel / היסטוריה: כתב עת של החברה ההיסטורית הישראלית
No. 21 (אייר תשס"ח), pp. 31-83
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23257075
Page Count: 53
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Paradox of the Savage: A Comparison between Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" and Yehuda Horowitz's "Amudei Beit Yehuda" / גלגולי פרא — השוואה בין 'רובינזון קרוזו' לדניאל דפו ו'עמודי בית יהודה' ליהודה הורוויץ
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Abstract

The past few years have seen significant developments in Enlightenment historiography which have expanded the borders of research and allowed historians to study various enlightenments which existed outside the cultural borders of France, England, and Germany. In the present paper, I aim to demonstrate that in the expanding library of the Enlightenment, a shelf must be reserved for the eighteenth-century Jewish Maskilim. I pursue this aim through an examination of the paradoxical images of the noble and ignoble savage, as they appear in two books: Amudei Beit Yehuda, written by the Jewish physician Yehuda Horowitz and published in 1766, and Daniel Defoe's famous Robinson Crusoe, which was published in 1719. I illustrate that in spite of the many religious, cultural, and personal differences between Horowitz and Defoe, both authors may be viewed as part of a conservative and religious enlightenment, and that their use of the two conflicting images of the savage reflects the Janus-faced character of this strand of enlightenment, which pursued modernization on the one hand, and rejected radicalism on the other. Finally, the comparison between the representations of the savage in both books demonstrates the ways in which encounters between Jews, Christians, and non-European peoples, which took place on the imaginary shores of the eighteenth-century Terra Incognita, offer new perspectives on the global eighteenth century, European colonialism, and the many faces of the European Enlightenment.

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