Page 115 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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MAUR ICE SAMUEL : AN APPREC IAT ION
On the Occasion of His 70th Birthday
By
A
r th u r
L
elyv eld
T
h e
just way to evaluate a many-faceted writer like Maurice
Samuel is to judge the entire body of his work—and what
an impressive corpus it is! His productivity has been astounding.
In the forty-two years between 1921 and 1963, he went to press
with forty-five books: twenty-one as author and twenty-four as
translator. This does not include either his editorial work or the
continuing flow of articles, essays and tracts that have poured
from his wonder-working typewriter. All this time he never
ceased to edify the American Jewish community as its most
popular lecturer and propagandist. He has been a latter-day
maggid,
defined as he himself defined the species: One of those
“fabulists and moralists . . . and popular educators” who wan­
dered among our people exhorting, excoriating and teaching.
He is the last example of a precious genre that included Zang-
will and Shmaryah Levin. His “body of work” is still incomplete,
of course, for Maurice Samuel at 69 is still working with un­
abated diligence and he will be adding carefully shaped bricks
to the structure for many, many years—d.v. and
im yirtzeh—
to come.
It
is
a structure—one which he has built with integrity, with
authentic materials, with truth and with painstaking craftsman­
ship. Most important, it has been erected with a zeal that derives
from central conviction.
This is especially true of his polemical writings where one
follows the increasing enrichment and deepening of a thesis
first set forth by him in
You Gentiles
in 1924. In his novels,
there is no such discernible development. This is understand­
able. For fiction he has had great talent and little
chayshik.
His
writing of novels has been a craft to which he has brought
great skill. His writing out of his thesis has been a passionate
romance in which he has shown “devotion unto death.” As a
polemicist and interpreter he shone and shines. As an inter­
preter and translator—a
farteitcher,
as M. Z. Frank calls him—
he has performed the unique service of recreating an entire
world which had previously been locked in the Yiddish language
and inaccessible to English readers.
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