Page 63 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 14

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53
LEVY ---- LUDWIG LEWISOHN
I t is only for the sake of the record that
Stephen Escott
(1930) is
included here. I t deals with the same old sex problem of marriage
failure, due to dissatisfaction with a frigid first wife, and even with
a lusty second. In
The Last Days of Shylock
(1931), Lewisohn
returns to a Jewish theme, in this instance taking up the thread of
The Merchant of Venice
where Shakespeare had snapped it. He
portrays the protagonist in this novel as Israel incarnate, exempli-
fying the Jewish tenets of justice and mercy, of exemplary family
life and social responsibility. Shylock rises, figuratively and
literally, above the Gentile world that hates and persecutes him.
This is a powerful defense of the Jew and is the author’s own
covenant with and testimony to Jewishness. This work was
translated into French, German and Hebrew, and found an
enthusiastic and wide reading public.
The Golden Vase
(1931) symbolizes the beauty of art and love,
but, as is usual, the hero discovers that lust is not love and that
marriage does not necessarily give spiritual satisfaction.
Expres-
sion in America
(1932) presents a history of the spirit of American
literature as well as his own testament of beauty. Lewisohn finds
that we have imitated upper-class England for three centuries and
have not, therefore, been ourselves. We have not lived dangerously
in literature, unlike the pioneers, frontiersmen and experimenters
we became elsewhere. As American life, like life in general, is
fluid, so must art be fluid. The great writer creates his own forms
and norms. In his freedom we find our freedom.
This People
(1933) contains five short stories, all occupied with his favorite
themes, especially the tragic results to the Jew of assimilation.
An Altar in the Fields
appeared in 1934. This deals again with
married life. The general evaluation of this story is that it is
well told but incredible.
Permanent Horizons
, published the same
year, is, as the subtitle indicates, “a new search for old truths.”
I t expounds the author’s views on various aspects of our civiliza-
tion, including the mechanization of urban life, the sex ethics of
Bertrand Russell and the political theories of Communism.
The
Trumpet of Jubilee
, with its Jewish interest, came out in 1937, and
The Answer
in 1939. This is a series of Jewish essays that call
upon the Jews to be liberals, to be a separate people, to repudiate
Communism and to create a Jewish Palestine. In
For Ever Thou
Wilt Love
(1939), Lewisohn returns to the theme of love and mar-
riage, discussed over the dinner table by a man who confesses all
to his wife and friends.
Heaven
(1940) (in collaboration with Mrs.
Edna Manley Lewisohn) is the history of a honeymoon in the form
of a diary in which husband and wife make their respective entries.
The book is marred by poor taste, though it contains purple
passages.