Julius, Anthony (Robert) 1956-
JULIUS, Anthony (Robert) 1956-
Born July 16, 1956; son of Morris and Myrna Julius; married Judith Bernie, 1979 (divorced, 1998); married Dina Rabinovitch, 1999; children: (first marriage) Max Yoram, Laura Yael, Chloe Anna, Theo Raphael; (second marriage) Elon Lev. Education: Jesus College, B.A. (with honors); University College of Law, Ph.D.
Office—Mishcon de Reya, Summit House, 12 Red Lion Sq., London WC1R 4QD, England. E-mail—[email protected].
Attorney. Mishcon de Reya, London, England, 1981—, partner, 1984—, head of litigation, 1987—. Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund, trustee, 1997—, chairman, 1997-99, vice president, 2002—.
Institute of Jewish Policy Research (chairman of law panel, 1997—).
Idolizing Pictures: Idolatry, Iconoclasm, and Jewish Art, Thames and Hudson (New York, NY), 2001.
Transgressions: The Offences of Art, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2002.
Book reviewer for English papers, including the Guardian, Observer, and Sunday Telegraph.
Anthony Julius is a litigation lawyer who represented Diana, Princess of Wales, in her divorce and became trustee of her memorial fund following her death. He has also written several books, including T. S. Eliot: Anti-Semitism and Literary Form. Julius studies how Eliot's anti-Semitism was central to his thought and how it inspired him. He writes that Eliot was "able to place his anti-Semitism at the service of his art." Eliot's dislike of Jews was evident in a number of his early poems, claims Julius. Among those Julius examines for anti-Semitic elements are "Gerontion," "Sweeney among the Nightingales," "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar," "Dirge," "A Cooking Egg," and "The Waste Land."
R. F. Fleissner wrote in Contemporary Review, "So is the fact that a few Jews are cited in Eliot's poetry, and not admittedly in complimentary ways, sufficient evidence that he was of two minds? If so, on the same grounds, we would have to condemn great writers like Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Dickens. No doubt the close association with Ezra Pound constitutes a major factor (Pound having eventually confessed to having been anti-Semitic, as is well known), but it is also widely recognized that Eliot wrote Pound a strong letter deploring the latter's anti-Semitism."
ANQ reviewer Randy Malamud wrote, "I think that probably many, if not all, teachers and scholars of Eliot who read Anthony Julius's acclaimed and infamous book on Eliot's anti-Semitism will feel, as I do, that it will markedly affect how we teach and write about T. S. Eliot. Some will dismiss Julius's arguments and rhetoric as too far-reaching, finding them too subversive of Eliot's stature; too unfairly and too widely destructive of Eliot's poetic, his integrity, his aesthetic; too full of calumny; too subjective; and excessive." Malamud said he did not think the book "is any of these things, but I understand why readers might adjudicate Julius's argument in that way. Perhaps most productively, the book should spark vigorous and intellectually fruitful discussion among those who support and those who reject this work, along with fence-sitters."
Malamud wrote that "Julius's triumph is having set out, masterfully, the terms on which the issue of Eliot's distasteful relationship to Jewish culture—too often ignored, repressed, trivialized, or otherwise overlooked—must be confronted. To my mind, Julius irrefutably demonstrates that Eliot's readers must address his anti-Semitism much more vigorously than they have done in the past."
"Julius makes great efforts to sustain an appreciation of Eliot's talents as a poet," wrote Gregory Jay in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology, "even as he documents and explicates that poetry's expert manipulation of odious anti-Semitic cliches."
In Idolizing Pictures: Idolatry, Iconoclasm, and Jewish Art, Julius brings a new interpretation to Jewish law and the Second Commandment prohibition against Jews producing "any graven image." Judith Flanders noted in the Times Literary Supplement that his solution "seems almost simple: work out a theory whereby you declare that the biblical prohibitions actively encourage art, just art of a very specific nature. According to Julius, the Second Commandment doesn't just forbid figurative art, it also compels the observant Jew to iconoclasm, to idol-smashing. Thus, if your art is satirical enough, if it attempts to topple that which is respected, revered (loosely, 'idolized'), your creative bent can be welcomed by the religious."
Transgressions: The Offences of Art is Julius's tome on modern transgressive art, or art that depends on sensationalism, such as the depiction of blood, excrement, cruelty, or carnage. Julius refers to the shock value of such images as Robert Mapplethorpe's self-portrait in which a bullwhip protrudes from his anus. Transgressive art has been evident since the Renaissance but has had more significant representation since the middle of the nineteenth century when it was employed by Edouard Manet, to a degree that now seems tame in comparison to such images as Andres Serrano's Piss Christ (1987), in which a crucifix is submerged in urine.
Arthur C. Danto noted in the Times Literary Supplement that "the issue with transgressive art was always one of whether it was right that it be supported by public funds, a matter that would be settled by default if the art were genuinely considered criminal. When the Sensation show opened at the Brooklyn Museum, Mayor Giuliani's objections to Chris Ofili's 'flinging dung' (the mayor's language) at an image of the Holy Virgin Mary (the artist's language) were to do with whether the transgressing art should be supported by taxpayers who might find it morally repugnant." The Brooklyn Museum falls under municipal authority, the only museum in New York that does, and transgressive art has been shown at private galleries without objection.
Judith Shulevitz wrote in the New York Times Book Review that the book "will, or ought to, make it impossible for art critics and curators ever again to utter the word 'transgressive' in a tone of unqualified admiration or to make fun of the 'taboos' of bourgeois society. Julius's rehabilitation of taboo is the most novel part of his thesis, in fact. In his definition, taboo, like art, can serve as a rebuke to reason."
Spectator reviewer Nigel Spivey wrote that "with admirable pleading energy, he [Julius] differentiates three particular modes of transgression—art that defies the rules of art, art that challenges the values of its audience, art that undermines the state—and he manages to present his case in an assize of secular deliberation. 'Decency' here bulks plain as an elephant. But the lure of the naughty, the drag of nastiness, will not go away. We have to check it out."
Art in America critic Carter Ratcliff wrote that although Julius "acknowledges that not all art of the past century and a half makes its point by breaking the rules, he argues that the tactics of transgression have been 'hegemonic' since the middle of the nineteenth century—so much so that, from Manet's time until our own, artists tend not to be taken seriously unless they manage to offend at least one segment of the audience."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
ANQ, summer, 1998, Randy Malamud, review of T. S. Eliot: Anti-Semitism and Literary Form, p. 51.
Art in America, July, 2003, Carter Ratcliff, review of Transgressions: The Offences of Art, p. 19.
Contemporary Review, December, 1999, R. F. Fleissner, review of T. S. Eliot.
Guardian, June 7, 2003, review of T. S. Eliot.
Journal of English and Germanic Philology, January, 1998, Gregory Jay, review of T. S. Eliot, p. 149.
Library Journal, April 15, 2003, Savannah Schroll, review of Transgressions, p. 81; September 1, 2003, Denise J. Stankovics, review of T. S. Eliot, p. 166.
New Republic, July 29, 1996, James Wood, review of T. S. Eliot, p. 30.
New York Times Book Review, March 23, 2003, Judith Shulevitz, review of Transgressions, p. 27.
Notes and Queries, June, 1997, Frank McCombie, review of T. S. Eliot, p. 287.
Observer (London, England), January 28, 2001, Lisa Jardine, review of Idolizing Pictures: Idolatry, Iconoclasm, and Jewish Art, p. 19.
Publishers Weekly, April 9, 2001, review of Idolizing Pictures, p. 67.
Spectator, October 26, 2002, Nigel Spivey, review of Transgressions, p. 49.
Times Literary Supplement, April 13, 2001, Judith Flanders, review of Idolizing Pictures, p. 20; November 1, 2002, Arthur C. Danto, review of Transgressions, p. 7.*