Page 37 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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L
e f t w i c h
— A
n g lo
-J
e w i s h
L
itera ture
31
1 remember the Georgians as innovators, the “new poets.”
I remember Harold Monro's Poetry Bookshop before the First
World War. Monro, whom I knew, reminded us in his
Anthology
of Twentieth Century Poetry
that appeared in 1929: “The
Georgian anthologies represented a definite period, though it
culminated in a natural fatigue.”
The (London) Times
had a
leading article in February on a new Georgian poetry anthology
published in the Penguin series, which it finds “timely in its
reminder that no fashion in poetry can hope for immunity from
revolutions and none, if there is any real good in it, need despair
of being rescued from oblivion.”
A word is needed here about those who admire Isaac
Rosenberg and are trying to rescue him from the stigma of
having been attached to the Georgians, whom they despise. I
remember with what enthusiasm Rosenberg spoke to me of the
Georgians—not of Brooke, for whom he had little taste, but of
Gordon Bottomley and Abercrombie, and how he tried to get
Marsh to notice his own work. When he finally got into the
Georgian book he wrote to me about it, sad because “I am only
having about half a page in it, and it’s only an extract from a
poem—I don’t think anybody will be much the wiser.” I t was
the third Georgian book, published in 1917; “examples,” Marsh
wrote, “from the work of contemporary poets belonging to the
younger generation.” Rosenberg was represented by a marvellous
extract from
Moses—
“Ah, Koelue, had you embalmed your beauty,
so it could not backward go.” I t is only 22 lines long, but a
good sampling of Rosenberg’s power.
Anglo-Jewry has produced more poets, though perhaps none
with Rosenberg’s originality, intensity and stature, except Sieg-
fried Sassoon who is only half Jewish and was never brought up
as a Jew. But with Humbert Wolfe, Lazarus Aaronson, Abraham
Abrahams and Jon Silkin we are not negligible, though they
betray their influences, and one reviewer while praising Silkin
could regret that some of his work is “weakened by being filtered
through Dylan Thomas.”
We are all apt to fall under fashionable influences, in literature
as in everything else. I remember the fuss about the newness
of the experimental novel, which was going to supersede the
old narrative novel. William Cooper at the PEN Congress in
1954 pronounced the experimental novel dead. “A quarter of a
century ago,” he said, “it looked to many intelligent and per-
ceptive English critics as if the successful permanent revolution
that had taken place in poetry would be paralleled by an equally
successful permanent revolution in the novel. Those were the
days when experimental writing was at its peak. Joyce, Kafka,
Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf had made their mark on
the novel; they had transformed it. Today experimental novels