Page 132 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
theory readers. That audience is even more likely to be sur­
prised to find so much assistance in restoring ethics from Jewish
thought. With Handelman’s book the correlation that Levinas
accomplished with philosophy is repeated in the field of literary
theory. Again his work helps make Jewish thought come alive,
but again, not for the sake of Judaics alone, but with the claim
that it will also help enrich a general discourse. This aid, more­
over, is secured precisely by insisting on the themes which are
constant in Levinas, whether writing for philosophers or for
Jewish intellectuals: the emphasis on responsibility and the eth­
ical origin of language. Levinas manages to make some o f the
most basic themes in Jewish thought address the most recent
and flashy postmodern discussions. That address accentuates
certain dimensions of Jewish thought which have often recently
been underemphasized, and moreover, it gives Jewish thought
a vital part to play in contemporary discussion.