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Nahida Ruth Lazarus's "Ich suchte Dich!": A Female Autobiography from the Turn of the Century

Katharina Gerstenberger
Monatshefte
Vol. 86, No. 4 (Winter, 1994), pp. 525-542
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30153335
Page Count: 18
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Nahida Ruth Lazarus's "Ich suchte Dich!": A Female Autobiography from the Turn of the Century
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Abstract

Fiction writer, journalist, intellectual, and autobiographer, Nahida Lazarus (1849-1928), who is best known as the wife and biographer of the ethnopsychologist Moritz Lazarus (1824-1903), converted from Christianity to Judaism toward the end of the nineteenth century. The contemporary controversies over cultural and racial definitions of "Germanness" and the concurring emergence of anti-Semitism provide not only the socio-political background but also the motivation for her conversion from a majority to a minority position. In her 1898 autobiography Ich suchte Dich!, she narrates her experience of religious conversion as a process of claiming and asserting a public voice as a woman. Writing at a historical junction at which definitions of Jewishness begin to take on racial connotations, Lazarus asserts Jewish religious identity as an emancipatory female identity. In this conversion narrative, constructions of female identity cut across notions of Jewish identity, thus creating an autobiographical subject situated at the intersecting axes of gender, religion, and race.

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