Page 103 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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Jewish religion and ethics. By that time, however, there were
enough immigrant Jews on New York’s East Side to attract the
attention of journalists and social workers, among them Jacob
Riis and Lincoln Steffens. Articles about the sweatshop system
and the grimy poverty of the workers began to appear in current
periodicals, making Americans aware of the existence of these
Jews. Abraham Cahan, the dynamic Yiddish journalist, pub-
lished
Yekl, A Tale of the New York Ghetto
(1896), a collection
of stories,
The Imported Bridegroom
(1898) and
White Terror
and the R e d (
1904). About that time Professor Leo Wiener of
Harvard discovered the Yiddish poems of the sweatshop by Morris
Rosenfeld, wrote about them in the influential
Nation,
and edited
a two-language edition of
Songs of the Ghe tto(
1898). Wiener’s
own important book,
The History of Yiddish Literature in the
Nineteenth Century
(1899), gave Americans the first inkling of
the existence of such a literature. Equally significant was the
publication of Hutchins Hapgood’s
The Spirit of the Ghetto
(1902), in that it was a sympathetic account of New York Jew®
by a prominent journalist. A new edition has just been issued
by the Harvard University Press.
By this time several American publishers were sufficiently en-
terprising to venture into the field of current Jewish interest.
They brought out F. C. Conybears’
The Dreyfus
Ca5^(1899), B.
Lazare’s
Antisemitism: Its History and Causes(
1903), M. Davitt’s
book on the Kishinev pogrom,
Within the Pale
(1904), C. S. Bern-
heimer’s
The Russian Jews in the United
States (1905), E. S.
Brundo’s
The L ittle Conscript (
1905), and Max Nordau’s
The
Dwarfs Spectacles
(1905). Nordau’s
Degeneration
had earlier at-
tracted several American publishers, among them Henry Holt.
Although habitually prejudiced against Jews, he was an admirer
of intellectual originality and wanted to publish the book, but
suggested certain emendations to Nordau. Appleton, however,
offered him a contract without conditions and obtained the book.
Of significance also is Holt’s relation to Henri Bergson. When
Creative Evolution(
1911) was recommended to Holt by Paul
Elmer More and other of his intellectual friends, he contracted
for the book despite his own doubts about its philosophic val-
idity. When Bergson came to New York in 1912 to lecture at
Columbia University, Holt instructed his chief editor, a Colum-
bia graduate, to ascertain that Bergson was a “gentleman” before
inviting him to his house.
First Jewish General Publishers
The first Jew to enter general publishing, initially very modestly
but soon impressively, was B. W. Huebsch, son of a rabbi and
M a d i s o n — J e w i s h B o o k i n A m e r i c a n P u b l i s h i n g
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