Page 46 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

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after the so-called
was more under purely Jewish influence
and followed the pattern and moods of literature created in Yiddish
since the time of Mendele Mocher Sforim. They were pupils of
I. L. Peretz, H. N. Bialik, Morris Rosenfeld, S. Frug and Abraham
Reisen. Poets who preferred Yiddish to alien influence included
Ephraim Auerbach, Z. Weinper, J . J. Sigal, A. Nisenson, Naphtali
Gross, A. Lutzky, Levi Goldberg and B. I. Bialostotzky.
Another distinct group of writers centered around the literary
They included the poets Abba Stolzenberg and
M. Shtiker, who were influenced by modern German poetry, and
A. Tabachnik, who is also a good critic. A group known as
, consisting of leftist American Yiddish writers, was
influenced by modern Soviet writers.
The group known as
, which started
about 1918, was influenced by modern American and British
poetry, primarily the American Imagists of the days of Amy
Lowell. They emphasized the urban and intellectual approach to
poetry; they called not only for sentiment and song bu t also for
ideas, for a poetic message. Their main representatives are N.
B. Minkoff, A. Leyeles, Jacob Glatstein and B. Alquit.
In defining the specific Americanism of American Yiddish
literature, one should bear in mind th a t writers who developed
their talents on American soil have more Americanism in their
writings than others whose talents matured in Europe, such as
the gifted writers I. J. Singer and I. Bashevis, who wrote important
works about Jewish life in Eastern Europe, and Jonah Rosenfeld.
Sholom Asch, it is true, displayed a good deal of Americanism
as regards theme and motif, although he had attained literary
maturity in Europe before he came to these shores. Abraham
Reisen, on the other hand, did not add much to his collection of
charming short stories during his years in America. But Reisen
the poet did create in New York a considerable body of excellent
verse, perhaps deeper poetry than he had written during his youth
in the Old World. And some of the verse Reisen wrote in America
is filled with American experiences and yearnings and breathe
universalism rather than the provincial air of the East European
To sum up, American Yiddish literature includes many works,
in poetry as well as prose, which express not only American land-
scape and American spirit but also express a strong universalism,
an all-embracing humanitarianism. Nevertheless, American Yid-
dish literature is in the main animated by Jewish motifs, by the
Jewish folk and national spirit. I t not infrequently happens th a t
in one’s own national motifs, even in one’s very folklore, there is