Page 91 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

Basic HTML Version

77
P
atter son
— A
rt
o f
t h e
T
ran slator
paste out of a tube, but virtually impossible to inject it into an-
other tube without first removing the nozzle. Any attempt to
force an entrance without first widening the area of entry must
inevitably result in a formless, squelchy mess, unrecognizable
and unattractive.
Translated Hebrew Novels
The most successful exponents of translation are those who
have come to understand such basic laws. But as far as the trans-
lation of Hebrew literature into English is concerned the number,
as yet, is lamentably small. This paper is not concerned with the
translations of the great Hebrew classics, such as the Bible, the
Mishnah, the Talmud, or the Midrash, all of which have been
rendered admirably into English. But then—with the exception
of the first-named—the literary and aesthetic character of these
works is not a prime consideration. The main purpose of this
sketch is to survey the field of modern Hebrew literature in
English translation, and here the horizons are sadly circum-
scribed.
The novels previously mentioned account—so far as I am
aware—for almost half the sum total of Hebrew novels translated
into English. Of the remainder, two are by Ibn Zahav—
Jessica,
My Daughter ,
translated by I. Meltzer, and
David and Bathsheba,
translated by I. M. Lask; a third is Yehudah Yaari’s
When the
Candle was Burning,
translated by M. Hurwitz, a fourth S.
Shneur's
Noah Pandre’s Village,
translated by J. Leftwich, and
finally David Maletz’s
Young Hearts—
as the English version is
called—translated by S. N. Richards. One further novel, Moshe
Shamir's
The King of Flesh and Blood,
has been translated by
the author of this paper. Five or six volumes of poetry, two or
three dozen short stories and a handful of books of essays com-
plete the sum total of modern Hebrew literature as yet translated
into English. Of Hebrew authors—apart from Ahad Ha'am, who
falls into a different category—only Bialik, Agnon and Ibn
Zahav are represented in any adequate measure. It is scarcely
surprising, therefore, that the English-speaking world is hardly
aware of the very existence of modern Hebrew literature.
Fortunately, the overall picture is not entirely devoid of hope.
Certain sporadic channels remain, through which a trickle of
Hebrew literature finds its way into English translation. From
time to time the
Jewish Quarterly
presents translated fragments
of modern Hebrew works, a procedure which is continued by the
English periodical
Sifrut,
whose avowed aim is to acquaint the
English reader with the trends and currents of modern Hebrew
literature. Moreover, the admirable
Israel Argosy,
of which five
volumes have appeared to date, is entirely devoted to the presenta-
tion of Hebrew literature in English translation. This latter
journal performs the additional useful function of providing a