This is a fascinating book about the historic role of dialogue as a literary device in the works of five Jewish philosophers, spanning the 11th – 18th centuries. Hughes contextualizes this genre both globally, with regard to what was occurring for the Jews in the larger non-Jewish world in which they resided, as well as particularly for each of the five philosophers and their seminal dialogue literary work. Particularly interesting was the chapter on Judah Abravanel’s Dialoghi D’Amore, which enjoyed widespread popularity in the non- Jewish world and involved as its two protagonists— rather uniquely — a man and a woman, presented as co-equals. Hughes’ discussion of Moses Mendelssohn’s Phaedon was also of interest due to its enormous literary success, as measured both by its multiple printings and translation into numerous languages. This book is probably better suited for academics steeped in philosophy, intellectual history, and/or Jewish history than for the layperson. Bibliography, index, notes.
William Liss-Levinson is vice president, chief strategy & operations officer of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., a consumer health research, information, and publishing company. He holds a Ph.D. in education and is a member of the board of directors of the Jewish Book Council.