Page 186 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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A M E R I C A N Y I D D I S H B O O K S
and a Selected List of Yiddish Books Published Abroad
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HERE was a “mass production” of Yiddish books in Israel
and Argentina, where labor was cheaper than in the Un ited
States. T h e Un ited States, however, produced scholarly Yiddish
books requiring careful preparatory work, and luxury editions
distinguished by good quality paper, modern graphic design and
artistic illustrations. T h e output of Yiddish books in other coun-
tries was rather insignificant. T h e only established publishing
house in the “Iron Curtain” countries is “Idisz Buch” in Warsaw.
Soviet Russia and Rumania published Yiddish books only spo-
radically.
Despite its geographical dispersion, Yiddish literature demon-
strated unity of character and purpose, and continued to exh ib it
the same characteristics and trends as in previous years. T h e
novel, a difficult literary genre requiring deep roots in society
and long periods of stability to enable concentration, had only
a few exponents. It dealt with traditional Jewish life in Eastern
Europe of the distant past and o f yesteryear. T h e more numerous
collections of short stories reflected not only life in the Old
Country, but also the new, often exotic environment o f con-
temporary Jewish life. Poetry which comes more and more to
the foreground of Yiddish letters was represented, among others,
by a brilliant group of American Yiddish poets. Some of them
were old-timers in this country; others came to its shores after
the last war.
T h e desire to preserve for posterity the image of life so ruth-
lessly destroyed by the Nazis, and the need to inform the world
about the horrors and crimes against the Jewish people, produced,
as in the past, a prolific and varied crop of historical works,
memorial volumes, memoirs and eyewitness accounts. T h e mem-
oirs included the first volume of Simon Dubnow’s autobiography
(translated from the Russian), and works by contemporaries
reflecting Jewish life in various countries, including immigrant
life in the United States. Th is year’s literature of the Catastrophe
period included a new (full, the publishers claim) edition of
Dr. R ingelblum ’s diary of the Warsaw ghetto and several other
important documentary publications such as a manuscript about
Jewish actors found in the Vilna ghetto and a collection of eye-
witness reports by Jewish guerilla fighters and soldiers.