New Books Network

Dr. Brian Collins

A Very Square Peg

A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 4: Women’s Coats and Beach Cabanas

New Books Network 2020

New Books in BiographyNew Books in German StudiesNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books NetworkVery Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler June 30, 2020 Brian Collins

In this episode, we examine the rivalry/friendship between Eisler and the great scholar of Jewish mysticism Gershom Scholem and reassess Eisler’s infamous meeting with...

In this episode, we examine the rivalry/friendship between Eisler and the great scholar of Jewish mysticism Gershom Scholem and reassess Eisler’s infamous meeting with Scholem and Walter Benjamin in Paris in 1926. We try to unravel the mystery of why Eisler was disavowed by his government after he was appointed to The International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation. Finally, we take a look at the ambivalent reception of Eisler’s 1922 Orpheus lecture in Hamburg (he gets a spontaneous ovation but his attempted art theft comes back to haunt him) and his strained relationships with the pioneering German intellectual historians Aby Warburg and Fritz Saxl. One question remains: how did Eisler’s frock coat get stolen?

Voice of Robert Eisler: Caleb Crawford

Additional voices: Brian Evans and Chiara Ridpath

Guests: Amir Engel (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Steven Wasserstrom (Reed College), and Claudia Wedepohl (The Warburg Institute).

Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.

Special thanks to the Warburg Institute and the Griffith Institute at the University of Oxford.

Bibliography and Further Reading

-Eisler, Robert. Orpheus the Fisher: Comparative Studies in Orphic and Early Christian Cult  Symbolism. London: J. M. Watkins, 1921.

-Eliade, Mircea. Journal I, 1945-1955. Trans. by Mac Linscott Ricketts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

-Engel, Amir. Gershom Scholem: An Intellectual Biography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.

-Gombrich, Ernst. Aby Warburg: An Intellectual Biography.  Leiden: Brill, 1970.

-Gopnik, Adam. “In the Memory Ward.” The New Yorker, March 16, 2015.

-Levine, Emily J. Dreamland of Humanists: Warburg, Cassirer, Panofsky, and the Hamburg School. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Scholem, Gershom. Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship. New York: New York Review of Books, 2003.

-Scholem, Gershom, ed. The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem. New York: Schocken Books, 1989.

-Scholem, Gershom. From Berlin to Jerusalem: Memories of My Youth. New York: Schocken Books, 1980.

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Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.