• "All that Suffering": Hebrew Narratives about the Prague Easter massacre of 1389 and their interaction with the Latin material

    Evina Steinova (see profile)
    Jewish Studies, Medieval Studies
    Interfaith relations, Jews, Christianity, History, Jewish literature, Literature, Medieval, Middle Ages
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Jewish, medieval Hebrew literature, Prague, anti-Judaism, anti-Jewish violence, Jewish-Christian relations, Jewish history, Medieval Jewish literature, Late medieval literature, Medieval Jewish history
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    The Prague Easter pogrom of 1389 is considered the most significant outbreak of anti-Jewish violence in Bohemia prior to WWII. The impact of this event is evidenced by the fact that it triggered composition of numerous texts - in Latin, Czech and German, as well as in Hebrew - which captured the experience of the pogrom from different perspectives. Six of such textual compositions exist in Hebrew and may be compared and contrasted in terms of the treatment of the event. They are anchored in various medieval Hebrew literary traditions, ranging from liturgical poetry (Et kol Ha-Tela of rabbi Avigdor Kara) to historiography (Cemach David of David Ganz), and thus use distinct symbolic languages to describe the trauma of the pogrom. The same is true for the compositions in Latin and Czech, particularly for a corpus of five literary texts known as the Passio Iudeorum Pragensium, which employ Christian narrative models. Although the two sets of texts - in Hebrew and in Latin - emerged from distinct, even contradictory narrative traditions, they cannot be perceived as independent or unrelated. Rather, they are parts of a single discourse on the nature and purpose of the pogrom violence and strive to contain such a event, traumatic both for the Jews and the Christians. There are many examples of how the two sets of texts mutually interact, whether more indirectly, by employing the conflicting narrative traditions, or more directly, by referring one to another. I discuss the Christian and the Jewish literary compositions pertaining to the pogrom of 1389 and examine their discursive interaction, showing where they conflict or overlap, and what may be deduced from such an interaction.
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago


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