Page 112 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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H E R Z L THE P L A YWR I G H T
B y
O
s k a r
K .
R
a b i n o w i c z
I
E
NGLISH LITERATURE on the “other״ Herzl is non-ex-
istent. There are a few biographies of Herzl available in Eng-
lish that refer also to other than his Jewish and Zionist activities;
but these consist merely of short general remarks. Some serious
studies on the subject are available in German; for example, Leon
Kellner’s
Theodor Herzls Lehrjahre
(Vienna and Berlin, 1920),
a few chapters in Alex Bein’s
Theodor H erzl
(Vienna, 1934), and
the well documented
Theodor Herzl: Des Schoepfers erstes Wol-
len
by Josef Fraenkel (Vienna, 1934). But it seems that in the
English reading world—and also in the Hebrew for that matter,
which I believe is more astonishing—no one has taken the trouble
to study and analyze the totality of Herzl’s work, of which Zion-
ism constitutes only the climax.
The first obvious reason is that, apart from a selection of Herzl’s
writings on Jewish matters
(Der Judenstaat, A ltneu land , Das
Neue Ghetto ,
extracts from his
Diaries}
some sketches, essays and
speeches), none of his works is available in English translation.
When one considers the frequent mention of Herzl’s name in
Zionist and general Jewish literature and on innumerable plat-
forms, one is puzzled by so complete an absence of a desire for
knowledge of the man and his work. It seems symptomatic of a
serious defect that it never occurred to any literary critic or his-
torian writing in English, to look for more than the obvious
political aspect of Herzl’s life;2 or, if obliged to write about his
literary work, simply to repeat old banalities.
Even the English rendition of Bein’s standard biography, which
in the German original contains a few enlightening chapters on
Herzl the playwright and
feu ille ton ist,
has omitted the major
parts of these chapters, particularly those referring to the drama-
tist, thus reducing them to insignificance. But I maintain that
Herzl’s personality, even his Zionism, cannot be adequately appre-
hended unless we understand the man in all phases of his spiritual
growth and in all aspects of his activities.
1 A complete edition of the
Diaries
is to be published this year.
2 The only attempt at a beginning I can think of is Alfred Werners short
article “Herzl as Playwright,” in
Brooklyn Jewish Center Rev i ew ,
June,
1954, pp. 9-11.
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