Lagarde, Paul de°

views updated


LAGARDE, PAUL DE ° (Paul Anton de Boetticher ; 1827–1891), German Protestant Orientalist and public intellectual. An abrasive personality, Lagarde was thwarted in his academic career and further embittered by a long wait for the professorship he finally obtained at Göttingen University in 1869. He was especially interested in biblical textual criticism and began work on a critical edition of the Septuagint (which was never completed). Wholly out of tune with the times, he thundered against the political, religious, and educational life of the newly founded German Empire, especially the pernicious influence of Jews which he saw everywhere. As carriers of a soullessly liberal and international modernism, and thus anathema to his own nostalgic medieval Teutonism, Jews were "a repulsive burden, with no historical use" (Mittheilungen, vol. 2, 331). Lagarde was not strictly speaking a racist because he thought "sincere" assimilation was a way of overcoming repellent Jewish traits; yet his antisemitism could be recklessly extreme, comparing Jews to bacilli, with the clear implication that they ought to be exterminated. His Deutsche Schriften (1878), reissued several times up to 1945, became a classic, exercising enduring influence on generations of antisemites in Germany and elsewhere.


F.R. Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair (1961), passim; R.W. Lougee, Paul de Lagarde, 18271891: A Study of Radical Conservatism in Germany (1962).

[Richard S. Levy (2nd ed.)]