Page 226 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
half dozen irrelevant essay-reviews on Jewish-American literature,
recently invited an English-Jewish novelist-critic, whose main
occupation is sports reporting, to confirm the strange views of
his fellow babblers over here.
“But the Jews are a history-drenched people and eternity is
on their side. Poor books about Jews in the end are forgotten,
no matter how long their temporary immortality, and good books
endure. Meyer Levin’s books will endure. He will endure. He has
written what is probably the most honest, the most poetical
autobiography in
In Search.
It is instinct with Jewish lyricism,
and that is truly something special. In
T h e Old Bunch
he has
written a huge remarkably alive book, brimming with insight.
It, too, will be read by our grandchildren, and great grandchil­
dren. So will
Compulsion.
So will
Th e Stronghold.
So will other
of his books. His hold on literary history is firm.
“In honoring Meyer Levin the Jewish Book Council of America
is fortunate in honoring a writer to whom Jewishness is not
something to be psychoanalized but to be understood, relished
and loved. He knows that truth is based upon full knowledge,
not baffling neuroticism. He knows that all Jews are not angels,
but he also knows that they are not all psycopaths. His Jewishness
encompasses all its aspects and springs from the abiding convic­
tion that at least a large element of the Song of Songs is to be
found in
Dos Pintele Yid.”
Ruth Finer Mintz
Mrs. Ruth Finer Mintz was presented with the Harry and
Florence Kovner Memorial Award for English-Jewish Poetry by
A. Alan Steinbach who stated:
“It is hardly necessary for me to remind this audience that
numerous definitions of poetry have been advanced. From Mat­
thew Arnold’s rather frigid definition that ‘Poetry is at bottom
a criticism of life’ to T . S. Eliot’s declaration that ‘Poetry is not
a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion, not the
expression of a personality but an escape from personality,’ we
are confronted with a plethora of demarcations. Some aver that
poetry must be viewed for
what it does
rather than for
what it is.
Coleridge focused emphasis upon a ‘spontaneous overflow of
powerful feelings,’ while Shelley regarded poetry as ‘the record
of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.’
Shelley’s dubious definition would, of course, rule out T . S. Eliot’s
The Waste Land.
“Personally, I am not swayed by definitions. When a volume
of verse comes to my attention, I read a few pages to ascertain
whether or not the book is justified in saying:
This is poetry.