Page 8 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
2
a school desk or on a tree trunk? And now in adulthood do
they vary the procedure by producing a manuscript, financing
its publication, and thus revel in “carving” their name again?
If this feverish activity to create a “falling star” were the
whole story, it could be dismissed offhand. But it does not end
there; such a solution is too simplistic. The publisher’s blurbs,
calculated to make the book saleable, and the jacket punctuated
with extravagant laudatory cliches which frequently bear not
even a coincidental resemblance to the book’s contents, pose
a problem of exposing this exercise in literary counterfeiting.
The easy, frenetic adjectives create a false image that not only
beguiles the gullible public but often influences a certain cate-
gory of book reviewers who do not scrutinize beyond the jacket
before their typewriters leap into action. These reviewers con-
tribute to the blatant irresponsibility which characterizes
modern book reviewing. They misrepresent as a “fixed star”
what should never have been even a “falling star.”
These assaults on literary authenticity call for remedial
measures. Frankly, I am unable to suggest a definitive formula
to silence the picturesque verbs that scream out of publishers'
blurbs, to expose the seductive adjectives which describe pedes-
trian works as “masterpieces,” and to deter indiscriminative
reviews which make a shambles of reliable literary criticism.
However, I believe it is incumbent upon the Jewish Book
Council to raise its voice in challenge against this intolerable
situation.
II
Those conversant with the philosophy and the goals of the
Jewish Book Council will find both adumbrated in the follow-
ing appropriate quotation attributed to Clarence Day:
The world of books is the most remarkable creation of
man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments
fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out,
and after an era of darkness new races build others. But
in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen
again and again and yet live on, still young, still as fresh
as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of
the hearts of men centuries dead.
Since its inception the Jewish Book Council of America
has been engaged in the assiduous cultivation of its own patch
in the world of books. Through the trilingual
Jewish Book
Annual
and
In Jewish Bookland,
through its sponsorship of
Jewish Book Month observed annually by over two thousand