Page 120 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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J
e w i s h
B
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A
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would require more than an article to elaborate all the detailed
parallelisms, the identical phraseology, or the description of cir-
cumstances we encounter in his plays. Suffice it to point out that
the pattern of
A ltneu land ,
which describes Dr. Loewenberg and
Mr. Kingscourt leaving Europe and returning to the New Society
after twenty years, is reiterated time and again in his plays. Thus,
Philipp von Sorau returned after an absence of many years (in
the play
W i ld d ie b e )
; Paul Witting (in
Prinzen aus Gen ieland)
returned after seven years from his travels all over the world;
Alois Waldhofer (in
Was w ird man sagen?)
returned after thirteen
years in Cairo; and Sievers (in
Unser Kaethchen)
after eighteen
years in Australia. Like Loewenberg in
A ltneu land
, they left Eu-
rope disappointed over their love affairs and their problems. There
is, however, this difference: while all returned to a society holding
the same interests and problems for them, Loewenberg became
acutely aware of the changes effected by the establishment of the
new Jewish State. A close resemblance to the problems confront-
ing Loewenberg on his return is found in Herzl’s
Solon in Lyd ien .
In this play the Athenian statesman does not actually return
to a place he had left; he disappears for ten years into Lydia and
participates there in the experiment of creating a new order.
Apart from technical, thematic and other general similarities,
the parallelisms in Herzl’s plays and his blueprints for Jewish life
apply also to individual characters. Ernestine, spoiled daughter of
the Loefflers in
A ltneu land
could be a daughter in any of his plays
—Leontine in
Muttersoehnchen,
Emmy in
W ildd iebe ,
Katy in
Un-
ser Kaethchen,
or Hermine in
Das N eue Ghetto .
Miriam Littwak,
in contrast to these types, was simple and unpretentious. She rep-
resented in
A ltneu land ,
like Lucie in
Seine H oh e it,
the daughter
“who was devoting herself to much more serious duties than the
daughters of wealthy Jewish homes in his day would have dream-
ed of.” Even when Miriam’s family had risen to prestige and im-
portance in Palestine, she did not emulate those who in Herzl’s
plays occupied a comparable social status. She remained “the
daughter of the Jewish peddler carrying herself so modestly and
yet with such dignity.”
A middle-class mother in any of Herzl’s plays could equally
serve as a prototype for Jewish women he describes as those “who
in empty cafe societies slander and fleece each other of their house-
keeping money at card games, or dissipate their time in all
manner of useless activities.”26 He did not, however, blame the
parvenu types of Jewish families, men or women, for their de-
cadence. His preparatory studies for plays dealing with that par-
ticular stratum of society, taught him that these Jewish types
were victims of a historical process. “I think,” he wrote in 1901,
“that we have acquired the habit in the years of decline which,
26 “Die Frauen und der Zionismus,”
op. cit .,
pp. 302-303; also for the
following quotation.