Max Brod and the Spell of Violence

Zohar Maor


In writer, poet, thinker, and politician Max Brod’s turbulent life, violence was a burning existential question. This paper follows Brod’s confrontation with political violence in three periods of his long career: in the first decade of the twentieth century, when he was still a cosmopolitan and an aestheticist; during the Great War and its aftermath, a few years after his Zionist conversion, and in the 1940s, after forced immigration to Palestine, when the brutal reality tested his earlier convictions. In his youth, Brod suggested his “indifferentism” as a way to neutralize the psychological sources of violence. After his Zionist conversion, he tried to rule out violence without ignoring the violent character of life and the allures of naturality and instincts that justify violence. Brod’s prose proffers various strategies how Zionism can cautiously use violence without betraying its ethical self-image.

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