So what to make of this:
When I was a young man of twenty-five or so, I was once marooned for eight days on one of society's most arid islands, in company with a Jewish girl of twenty-three. There being virtually no one else to talk with, we were pretty strictly limited to each other's society, and became very intimate. She was the only girl I ever saw who seemed to me the acme of everything desirable, with no offset that I could discover - everything in nature and disposition, education, beauty and charm, cosmopolitan culture and manners. Such I have always imagined Fanny Mendelssohn must have been or perhaps rather Henriette Herz, at the time when the mighty Schleiermacher was making up to her and the great Wilhelm von Humboldt was writing her his charming and whimsical love letters. What especially interested me was my complete certainty that with the best will in the world on both sides I should know her no better at the end of a hundred years of close companionship than I did at the end of those eight days. I never saw or heard of her afterwards, nor tried to do either. I have often thought, however, of what would happen if some rash and personable young Occidental fell in love with her—no one could help doing that—and married her. If he were sensitive, how distressed and dissatisfied he would be as he became aware of the vast areas of her consciousness from which he was perforce shut out forever; and on the other hand, if he were too insensitive to feel that he was shut out from them, how intolerable her life with him would be.Turns out that even in 1941, in the US, Jews were considered - by some, at least - "Orientals," even Jews whose families had been in the West since they could remember.
I'd always sort of assumed the Belle Juive - and this description is as Belle-Juive as it gets - had relevance in 1840s France, but WWII-era America? Count me surprised. But not that surprised - this does tend to back up what I'd assumed, which is that when non-Jewish men (such as this author) were the ones mainly responsible for creating stereotypes about Jewish women, the stereotypes were far more flattering - if, of course, offensive in their own way, as stereotypes kind of have to be - than are the ones we currently know (ahem, Roth-Allen two-headed monster), ones that come from Jewish men. I doubt if Jewish women today look radically different from Jewish women in 1840 or 1940. So it's strange to think that "Jewish" as a physical descriptor is today seen almost universally as unflattering (and no, the existence of Rachel Weisz proves nothing - an exception that proves a rule), whereas it was once if not the ideal, an ideal.
Ultimately, although this subject no doubt interests me as a, well, Juive, I'm not sure whether it would in any way have benefited me personally to live at a time when The Jewess was exoticized, thought "Oriental," and imagined to be something along the lines of a beautiful alien from outer space. All things equal, it's probably better not to be a fetish object on account of your ethnic background.