The City Without Jews: A Novel of Our Time (Hugo Bettauer)

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The City Without Jews: A Novel of Our Time (Hugo Bettauer)

The subtitle of "The City Without Jews," A Novel of our Time," remains unfortunately true. Bettauer takes as his subject one of the oldest themes in Jewish history: exile. Exile appears constantly in Jewish literature and history. Written in 1923, the author imagines that anti-Semitism leads Austria to expel all Jews. He describes the expulsion, but does not linger over the suffering, humiliation, and trauma such expulsions have historically caused. Families may be split, and lovers torn from each other, proprietors may be forced to sell their businesses at ridiculously low prices, but Bettauer is less concerned with what happens to any one individual than with taking an idea and carrying to its ultimate conclusion no matter how ridiculous it may seem. This is very much a novel of ideas, not of character. One of the ideas is that the consequences of expulsion are as bad or worse for the country which throws out its Jews as they are for the Jews themselves.

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