Berlin-born Fanny von Arnstein married a financier to the Austro-Hungarian imperial court, and in 1798 her husband became the first unconverted Jew in Austria to be granted the title of baron. Soon Fanny hosted an ever more splendid salon which attracted the leading figures of her day, including Madame de Staël and Arthur Schopenhauer. Hilde Spiel's biography provides a vivid portrait of a brave and passionate woman, illuminating a central era in European cultural and social history.
"Von Arnstein represents one of the most fascinating and paradoxical eras in modern Jewish history ... For an American Jewish reader, Fanny von Arnstein is fascinating above all as a cautionary tale - and a reminder of our luck at having avoided the excruciating choices that Fanny, and so many Jews like her, had to face."
- Adam Kirsch, Tablet Magazine
This book is indispensable for those interested in the history of culture, the role of women, and the transition of the Jewish community out of the ghetto toward the center of European life.”
- Leon Botstein, President of Bard College, author of Judentum und Modernität and co-editor of Vienna: Jews and the City of Music
In capturing the fascination of Fanny von Arnstein and her times, Hilde Spiel provides both a finely drawn portrait of a defining figure of her era, but also of the times themselves.”
- John Kornblum, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany