Page 71 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

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world and spirit. Of Joseph, when he came to Egypt, Mann
writes: “He learns his kind were not alone in the world. T h a t
what his fathers stood for was not so much better as different.
He meets all races of people, black and yellow. He sees
Th rough Joseph, Mann proclaims the supremacy of the spirit
over the sword. Joseph is the dreamer, the man of visions, the
man of words. Against him, in the form of his brothers, the
jealous masses would rise and unite in hatred. This struggle
symbolized the revolt of the masses against reason, against the
intellectual. They would tear him limb from limb. So the Nazi
masses, relying on brute force, believe they can build a new
world order.
But that is not the way, proclaims Thomas Mann. The way
is through the spirit of Joseph, the man of intelligence, the man
of spirit, the man of words. As Joseph moved from introspection
and aloneness to social-mindedness and the sense of collective
humanity, so will Humanity move through much sorrow and
suffering and grief until, using his divine gift of reason and
spirit and words, he will achieve a world of truth and justice
and peace. Thus, Thomas Mann protests against Nazi violence
and cruel force, and asserts his faith, drawn from Jewish sources,
in the triumph of mind and reason and spirit.
In truth, Thomas Mann, in one of the supremely great novels
of all times—a novel rich in wisdom, resplendent in beauty,
prophetic in hopefulness—through the symbol of the Jew, speaks
the voice of all Humanity at its noblest and best.
On completing a survey of the more significant gentile writers
of fiction who either treat of Jewish characters or merely allude
to Jews, one must confess that on the whole gentile writers do
not deal successfully with Jews as human beings. For the most
part Jews are treated as stereotypes; their humanity, their indi-
vidualities, their uniquenesses as persons are overlooked. Jews
may or may not be Decadents, Persecuted and Refugees, Rebels
and Symbols. They are persons. As Jews they have problems
particularly their own; bu t essentially they are made of the
same human stuff as all the rest of God’s children. Unfortunately,
gentile authors deal with what differentiates Jews from human
beings in general. Hence, most portraits of Jews are caricatures
or cartoons or grotesques.
Writing in the
Contemporary Review
on “The Jew in Gentile
Fiction,” D. L. Hobman has well said, “They are, in fact, fre-
quently nothing more than a microphone used for the broad-
casting of the au thor’s own view of Semitism, whether friendly
or the reverse.”
To write of Jews, gentile authors (and one might add, Jewish
authors) need a comprehensive understanding of Jews against
the backgrounds of history and environment. They ought to be
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