Page 44 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

Basic HTML Version

Lithuania, Poland, Bessarabia, Rumania and Galicia. Such nos-
talgic works were created here in America where the contrast with
the former quiet, idyllic life of the
was so great for the over-
whelming majority of East European immigrants who settled in
the large cities. They were created amid the turmoil of New York,
in th a t melting pot of immigrant nationalities where the individual
often succumbed to loneliness. They were written as an inner
poetical protest against the standardization of life in the American
metropolis. There are also works wherein can be found a more
sharply expressed protest against the rush and turmoil of the city,
such as the book
New Yorkish
by the terse storyteller L. Shapiro
and the writings of Sh. Miller.
Thus the mood of nostalgia, the deep longing, as well as the mood
of resignation, is a product of American circumstances and charac-
terizes not only Jewish immigrants bu t other immigrant na-
tionalities as well. In Yiddish it found stronger expression, since
American Yiddish literature is richer and more colorful than the
literature of the American Irish, Poles, Finns, Germans, Russians
and Chinese.
Though Yiddish literature is par t of general American literature
and American culture, unfortunately, not all American literary
critics and literary historians realize this fact.
In American Yiddish literature there are descriptions of noted
American Jewish personalities, entirely Americanized, who had
little or nothing to do with Yiddish. Some time ago there was
published a play,
Major Noah
, by H. Sackler, and only recently
there appeared a long novel,
Mordecai M. Noah
, by S. Erdberg.
There are Yiddish sketches of Haym Salomon. There is a novel
by S. Apter on the first group of Jews who landed in New Amster-
dam in 1654. Yiddish literature, too, contains poems on Abraham
Lincoln, such as
Lincoln in Richmond
by R. Eisland and
by Berish Weinstein. There are also descriptions, in prose and
verse, of other great American personalities.
American Yiddish literature also contains portraits of immi-
grants who are non-Jews, such as the poem
Pan Jablowski
by M. L.
Halperin, or vivid portra its of American Gentile people in some
of the works of B. Glassman, or
The Russian Shliapnikov
in the
three-volume novel
Upon Distant Roads
by David Ignatoff, or Tom
in Noah Goldberg’s book,
A Light Comes Up.
Negroes and Indians are often the subject of Yiddish poetry and
prose. Typical are the Indian poems of A. Ludwig, who died