Page 67 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

Basic HTML Version

“Wi th u t ter objectivity and no slightest mention of anti-
Semitism, without a single gesture of the heroic or dramatic,
just in the natural and rather easy-going course of a tale
which has no moral to teach nor cause to advocate, Upton
Sinclair presents in his great trilogy of novels a perfect case
for the Jew before the bar of justice. Nay, before the case
is half-presented, the tale half-told, it is compassion that is
listening at the bar, as well as justice.”
I l l
The Jew as Rebel against the evils of society is, of course,
not a new figure. But he takes new form in current fiction.
Mary, in Eric Knight’s
This Above Al l ,
declares, “Why look at
the Jew in this country? They ’re all Communists.” Sinclair Lewis,
some time ago, in his
Arrowsmi th
created Dr. Gottlieb, the pure
scientist in rebellion against political medicine. John Dos Passos
writes in his brilliant trilogy,
of Benny Compton, the
Jewish communist boy who works for the cause of labor and
later is sent to Atlanta for opposing the draft during the first
World War. The influence of communist thinking upon Jewish
life is revealed by Benny, the Marxian Jew, when he declares,
“Pop said rabbis were loafers and lived on the blood of the poor,
and he and the old woman still ate kosher and kept the Sabbath
like their fathers.” An interesting mixture of rebellious thinking
and traditional observance!
But the Jew as Rebel is not depicted only in communist
terms; he is still regarded as a descendant of the social prophets
of ancient Israel. D. H. Lawrence has created an interesting
Jewish rebel in his neglected novel of genuine power called
It is the story of an Englishman who, after the World
War, comes to Australia where he meets a strange Jewish char-
acter who seeks to redeem the world by setting up a dictatorship
of love. In an interesting conversation this Jew, nickna'med
the Kangaroo, declares:
“ . . . The greatest danger to the world to-day is anarchy,
not bolshevism. I t is anarchy and unrule that are coming
upon us—and that is what I, as an order-loving Jew and one
of the half-chosen people, do not want. I want one central
principle in the world: the principle of love, the maximum
of individual liberty, the minimum of human distress.”
In Richard Wr ight’s powerful story of Negro life and suffer-
ing in the United States,
Nat ive Son,
we meet a Jewish character
known as Mr. Max. Mr. Max is a communist and a lawyer who
devotes his abilities to the underprivileged in society. He defends
a Negro, Bigger Thomas, in court on the charge of murder.
From the first page of the story we are aware of this Negro
as an inevitable product of his environment. But he is more than
6 7