Page 73 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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—S. D.
mind characteristic of the Age of Reason and a heart with the
qualities of the Age of Romanticism.
Oscillating between the polarity of these currents, Luzzatto
painstakingly labored to maintain an intellectual equilibrium.
He refused to yield to the gravitational pull of either extreme.
He rejected the Cabbalah so fascinating to the romanticists
while opposing the agnosticism and deism of the rationalists.
He tried indefatigably to harmonize divergent ideas and to
reconcile contradictory views, hoping to evolve an outlook of
moderation compatible with the duality inherent in his nature
and shared by many of his contemporary coreligionists.
This intellectual equilibrium was difficult to maintain even
for a man so gifted as Luzzatto. Not only his personality but
also his literary creativity and scholarship were affected by the
polarity of his heart and mind. Reviewing briefly his literary
contributions in the light of this inherent dualism, we gain
a new insight and a better understanding of the contradictions
they contain.
In the domain of belles-lettres Luzzatto contributed two vol­
umes of verse entitled
Kinor Na’im.
Although admirable in
style, they are encumbered by excessive intellectualism and com­
plex speculation. Despite the acclaim his verse received from
Franz Delitzsch, they rank below the poetic works of contem­
poraries like Meir Letteris and Adam Hacohen, and are far
inferior to those of Michal and Y. L. Gordon. It is apparent
that the equilibrium Luzzatto endeavored to maintain between
his intellect and sentiment affected adversely his poetry. The
discipline of his calm, dispassionate mind thwarted the lyrics
which were to flow freely from his glowing passionate heart.
In the field of Hebrew and Aramaic philology, where the
dichotomy between heart and mind did not exist, Luzzatto’s
attainments were outstanding. He wrote a treatise on Hebrew
synonyms and several books, in Hebrew and Italian, dealing
with Hebrew grammar in which he displayed profound linguistic
acumen and subtle discernment. Equally remarkable is his
scientific study
which was a critical examination of
the text
Targum Onkelos,
as well as a study of the latter’s
methodological approach in the translation of the Bible.
Luzzatto’s achievements in the study of medieval Hebrew
literature were also of great importance. Like philology this
subject, too, failed to disturb the balance between the heart
and mind of the author. To some extent they may have com­
plemented each other. His subjective love for the Hebrew poetry
of the Golden Age, coupled with objective analysis of linguistics,
produced the scientifically edited Diwan of Halevi’s poetry and
his numerous emendations and explanations of many poems
written by poets of the Spanish and Franco-German schools.