Page 38 - 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
and ideals, po in t up the nihilistic malaise of the age, no t uncom­
mon among contemporary writers of Israel. Bu t it is a welcome
sign of the times tha t the poet Karl Shapiro has found a sympa­
thetic readership in Israel. For in his
Poems of a Jew
he empha­
sizes a new freedom:
When I th ink of the liberation of Palestine,
When my eye conceives the great black English line
Spanning the world news of two thousand years,
My heart leaps forward like a hungry dog,
My heart is thrown back on its tangled chain,
My soul is hangdog in a Western chair.
Curiously, Ludwig Lewisohn who made an impact on American
literature a generation ago and who had closer ties of identity
with Judaism was no t as eagerly translated as contemporary
writers of Jewish origin.
T h e progressive commercialization of lite ra tu re all over the
world has also affected Hebrew literature. While some writers
still translate
con amore,
many heed the call of a publisher and
tu rn ou t a product at a price. T h e American best-seller has a
much better chance to be translated than the unpopu lar work
of a genuine poet, dramatist o r novelist. And translation in Israel
is slowly becoming an industry ra the r than an art.