Page 34 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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2 6
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
And the hexameter of
Evangeline
in Tschernichowsky’s version
gave rise to a p lethora of hexametric poems in Hebrew.
Jack London was ano ther favorite w ith the Hebrew public.
Th ree Hebrew poets—Simon Halkin, Reuben Avinoam, Isaac
Lamdan—translated most of his novels and stories. T he re were
also other less-known translators. Th is partia lity to the crude
and adventurous story-teller can only be explained by the great
repu ta tion he enjoyed in Europe at the beginning of the century.
But the great renascence of American lite ra tu re in New
England—the complementary brands of transcendentalism rep re­
sented by Emerson and Thoreau , the dark and stark realism
of Hawthorne, the powerful symbolism of Melville—was no t as
thoroughly assimilated in Hebrew lite ra tu re as it could have
been. I t is true tha t Emerson’s
Representative M en
and
Essays
were translated by Isaac Leb Baruch, T ho re au ’s
Walden
by the
American-born Hebrew poet Reuben Avinoam, H aw thorne’s
T h e Scarlet Letter
by David Yehieli, Melville’s
Billy B udd
by
Abraham Regelson and
Moby Dick
by E lijah Bortniker. Still,
with the possible exception of Emerson, the writers in the
period of the American renascence made a slight impact on
Hebrew literature. Ironically, Emerson was translated in the
twenties when his influence in America was on the wane. T h e
recent publication of a definitive edition of Emerson’s
Journals
—five volumes have been published so far—may revive interest
in the sage of Concord. But his nobility of though t has scant
appeal to modern sensibilities.
Flood of Translations
T h e generosity of Abraham Joseph Stybel, pa tron and pub ­
lisher in the first half of our century, inunda ted Hebrew lite r­
ature with translations from many literatures including English
and American. O ther publishers emulated his example and
engaged Hebrew writers to translate American authors. Between
the two world wars the chief translators of American classics
were Hebrew writers who lived or had lived in America. They
were conscious of the heady atmosphere of their environment.
In 1925, an
annus mirabilis
of American fiction, they witnessed
the publication of Theodore’s Dreiser’s
A n American Tragedy,
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s
The Great Gatsby,
and Ernest Hemingway’s
In Our Time.
As immigrants, and most of them were immigrants, they were
also fascinated by the novels of Up ton Sinclair and Sinclair
Lewis, Sherwood Anderson and Robert Penn Warren, Thomas
Wolfe and W illiam Faulkner, John Dos Passos and John Stein­
beck, Pearl Buck and Eudora Welty. These novelists conquered