Kohn's buber, Buber's Kohn: Hans Kohn's biography of Martin Buber revisited

B. Y. Zohar Maor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Hans Kohn's 1930 biography Martin Buber: HisWork and HisTime was the only intellectual portrait of which Buber approved. This essay demonstrates that Buber gave Kohn a relatively free hand in the writing, enabling him to criticize him subtly and to use the biography to voice his own ideas. The merits of Kohn's biography are his unified portrait of Buber, that is, the association between Buber's 'mystical' and 'dialogical' periods, and the contextualization of Buber's work and activity in European and modernJewish intellectual and social settings. The biography, Kohn's most personal work according to his diaries, reveals his critique of mainstream Zionism and of Buber's feat in molding its destiny; his deep religious inclination and evolving conception of nationalism; and the deep impact that the trauma of the First World War, the rise of fascism and the bloody conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine had on his views. This conflict and Kohn's ensuing break with Zionism left a significant mark on his pioneering biography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-272
Number of pages18
JournalLeo Baeck Institute Yearbook
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Leo Baeck Institute.


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