Page 121 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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115
L
e f tw ic h
— I
srael
Z
a ngw il l
but he hesitated, because he had always experienced a special
feeling when reading these authors. There was a kinship between
them and men like Zangwill and Shalom Aleichem and Abraham
Cahan . . . the Jewish writers and the English writers had the
same warmth, the same gentleness, the same underlying mel-
ancholia.”
I wouldn’t put Zangwill on the same literary height as Disraeli
and Heine, but I can’t think of anyone else to stand as a third
between them, a writer, a Jew tormented by his Jewishness
(though and perhaps because Disraeli and Heine were baptized
and Zangwill was at times a heretic), a Jewish personality, a
great Jewish figure. And Zangwill has drawn portraits of them
both, Disraeli and Heine, in his
Dreamers of the Ghet to.
He
surely was like them a Dreamer of the Ghetto.
So I conclude my reappraisal of Zangwill on the threshold of
his centenary. I don’t know what is being done to commemorate
the occasion.
I think the best way to commemorate Zangwill would be to
reissue some of his books:
Children of the Ghet to;
a one volume
selection from his
Dreamers, Tragedies
and
Comedies of the
Ghe t to ,
not a bulky volume like that of the J.P.S. issued in
1938, perhaps a paper-back; a paper-back also of the “Children” ;
the
K ing of Schnorrers;
a selection of short stories from
Th e
Grey Wig
and other volumes;
Jinny the Carrier; Italian Fan
-
tasies; The Voice of Jerusalem;
and a volume of other essays,
including some from the
War for the World, Chosen Peoples
and
Watchman Wha t of the Night?
A friend of Zangwill’s of a later generation, my own contem-
porary, an admirer of his work, once suggested that I should
go through his work to remove some of the “outdated” and “old-
fashioned” bits, so that readers shouldn’t stub their toes on them.
He had in mind the modern legend that Victorian prose is all
ponderous and stiff, and cluttered up with archaisms. After all,
the man was born a hundred years ago. Yet I recently read a
history of English Literature and found there the word “old
fashioned” applied to George Eliot against George Meredith,
who was her contemporary—his
Richard Feverel
and her
Adam
Bede
appeared the same year. “George Eliot seems old-fash-
ioned,” it said, “in comparison with Meredith. He belongs to a
new order of thought.”
Zangwill could also be impatient sometimes with “old-fash-
ioned” people and ideas—“old fogeys” and “hithertos.” But he
could write too, “Did you ever see a more modern figure than
Tintoretto’s portrait of himself?” Then 1 thought of Birrell,
who found fault with Hawthorne’s “excessive use of the word
41methinks’.” Zangwill has an occasional ‘tis and ‘twas and ere