Reading Jewish Identity, Spiritual Alienation, and Reform Judaism Through the Veil of Abstract Self-Hatred, Racial Degeneration, and Anti-Semitism in Julia Frankau’s Dr. Phillips: A Maida Vale Idyll

Luke Devine


The extant historiography has analyzed fin de siècle Anglo-Jewish writer Julia Frankau’s Dr. Phillips: A Maida Vale Idyll as an example of Jewish self-hatred that activates themes of anti-Semitism, anti-intellectualism, hereditary degeneration, and scientific racism. But these are not the only ways to read Frankau’s novel. Alternatively, this paper will argue that the anti-religious thematic of Dr. Phillips is a product of Anglo-Reform Judaism’s conservatism in light of the “Woman Question” and the movement’s inability to implement the radical feminist proposals of the early German Reformers. We will see in this rereading of Dr. Phillips the unique ways in which the failure of Reform Judaism in England contributed to Frankau’s acculturation and to the extensive critique of her former coreligionists, the tradition she had once observed, and the community of her youth.

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