Page 76 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

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own little volume, wound up his review by saying, “Dear reader,
buy this book.” Literature has not become a pervasive par t of
our being, and we are stirred only by the apologetic or con-
troversial elements of new books as they tend to reflect favorably
or unfavorably upon Jewish life and character. It is the old
and desperate attempt to justify ourselves which I described in
the long article called, “The Attitude of the Jews Toward Jewish
Fiction” and published in the
Reader Magazine
for November,
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, a notable literary publication issued by Mitchel Kennerly.
Like the old man who asked his grandchild if the victory of the
Giants is good for the Jews, we still decide the merits of Jewish
writing on the basis of our rights and our standing among our
neighbors, our fears, apprehensions, and chronic uneasiness
playing havoc with our taste and judgment.
The community not being an independent entity and by
reason of language and customs being part of a larger conglomer-
ation of the inhabitants of the land, creative writing, outside of
what is done in Hebrew and Yiddish, is not primarily to be
produced directly for it, but is, in most instances, wrought with
an eye to a larger field or more remunerative market. Acci-
dentally, almost, some of the books written and published make
an appeal to the different elements of the population and also
have a special interest for or message to our people. But in the
long run, permanent creative literature is only produced for the
people that want it so earnestly that they can barely live without
it. A vital and intensive relationship between life around the
writer and the pulsating needs and aspirations of his audience is
essential to the production of vigorous and lasting literature.
Men cannot live by bread alone, and we need vital books of a
distinctive Jewish character to sustain us, especially in these
harrowing times. But the work will not be forthcoming until by
reason of larger enlightenment we demand and cry for it with
the same fervour with which we appeal for bread for the hungry.
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