Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England – Anthony Julius – Order now

julius“This is an essential history and so it’s fortunate it has been written by a man with the extraordinary fluency, staggering erudition, scholarly integrity, intellectual acumen, and moral discernment of Anthony Julius.” –Philip Roth

“Part history of an irrational hatred, part forensic analysis of a sophistical lie, part literary criticism – for, as Anthony Julius shows, anti-Semitism is a species of fantastical literature, all figure of speech, misquotation and fancy – this exhilarating work nails a defamation which, to humanity’s discredit, persists to this hour. Indispensable.” –Howard Jacobson

“Anthony Julius has produced a brilliant and readable account of a shameful stain on the national reputation. The best dissection I’ve seen of Britain’s oldest and least acknowledged racial prejudice.” –Nick Cohen

“Writing against a backdrop of rising violence and abuse directed at English Jews and the State of Israel, Anthony Julius insightfully and passionately traces antisemitism’s abject history in England from the medieval period until today. This eminently readable book is thoroughly researched and nuanced, and its take on contemporary antisemitism is a true tour de force.” –Jehuda Reinharz, Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History and President, Brandeis University

Trials of the Diaspora is a ground-breaking book that offers the first ever comprehensive history of anti-Semitism in England. Anthony Julius identifies four distinct versions of English anti-Semitism, which he then proceeds to investigate in detail. The first is the anti-Semitism of medieval England, a radical prejudice of defamation, expropriation, and murder, which culminated in 1290, the year of Edward I’s expulsion of the Jews from England, after which there were no Jews left to torment. The second major strand is literary anti-Semitism: an anti-Semitic account of Jews continuously present in the discourse of English literature, from the anonymous medieval ballad “Sir Hugh, or the Jew’s Daughter” through Shakespeare to T. S. Eliot and beyond. Thirdly, Julius addresses modern anti-Semitism, a quotidian anti-Semitism of insult and partial exclusion, pervasive but contained, experienced by Jews from their “readmission” to England in the mid-17th century through to the late 20th century. The final chapters then deal with contemporary anti-Semitism, a new configuration of anti-Zionisms, emerging in the late 1960s and the 1970s, which treats Zionism and the State of Israel as illegitimate Jewish enterprises. It is this final perspective which, in Julius’s opinion, now constitutes the greatest threat to Anglo-Jewish security and morale. This book, the first history of its kind, is sure to provoke much comment and debate, and comes as a timely reminder that English culture has been in no way immune to anti-Semitism – and in certain ways is still not to this day.

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