Page 75 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

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people he knew “ to satisfy the instinct.” With much hesitation
and his quain t bashfulness, Freidus told me one day that he
liked Hapgood’s book better than mine because the former
volume contained a lot of information. I was delighted with the
frankness, which was typical of the man, and we became better
friends than ever.
The Boston Evening Transcript ,
for which I wrote the
Keidansky dialogues and so many other essays and reviews, con-
tinued to publish my articles after I left Boston to invade the
great American metropolis of New York. The literary editor,
E. E. Edgert, sent me Hapgood’s book for review, and I wrote a
piece called
The Goy in the Ghet to.
I could not help ridiculing,
though mildly, the analysis of Yiddish plays and stories by an
author who did not know the language, and, though neither the
author nor his publishers were pleased, my intellectual friends
on the East Side complimented me on the title of my article.
At about the same time, I myself was rebuked as a “goy,” a
reviewer of the Keidansky book in the New York
Evening Sun
treating quite sarcastically the attempt of a non-Jew like myself
to penetrate the Jewish mind and interpret Jewish beliefs and
ideas. Thereupon, my friend, Frank S. Noxon, who was then
editing a Boston weekly called
The Republ i c,
had some fun on
his own account by telling the New York reviewer something
about an immigrant boy from Lithuania who was not, after all,
an unregenerate gentile.
Wi th a mental curiosity which often got the best of me, I
followed up everything that was published about Jewry, and I
suppose that my habit of browsing in old bookshops and the
collecting of books, commencing with the famous Corner Book
Store in Boston, began with the idea of acquiring every volume
of fiction, poetry, or drama which contained a substantial Jewish
element. I soon realized, however, that the undertaking was
enormous, and it remained for that genial collector, the late
Edward C. Coleman, to fill a whole house of such books in
Brooklyn, so that he had to live in Manhattan and go home
occasionally to see his books. For this notable collection I myself
found or suggested over
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titles, and the quaint and curious
experiences with Coleman, as with Freidus, Kohut and others
would fill a book by themselves.
The community has grown considerably since those days. Many
new writers have appeared, and works of fiction, essays, poetry
have assumed ever larger proportions; but Jewish literature is
still incidental to other activities and interests and remains
extraneous, apart, subsidiary, non-essential. The community as
such, perhaps because of its incompleteness or peripheric char-
acter, remains cut off or separated from permanent and para-
mount cultural and literary values. You still have to make an
appeal for the Jewish book, just as George Alexander Kohut,
when he wrote in
Helpful Thoughts,
1 9 0 3
, in behalf of my
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