Page 88 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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that the past is the past and should be buried. While her hero
indulges in absurd excesses, Miss Finas approaches her situation
in a comic vein not altogether appropriate to the subject. Nicole
is more searching fiction, though not alto-
gether convincing. I t is the story of a young man, raised in the
Jewish quarter of Cairo in the 1920’s, whose mother seeks release
from the squalor of her life in grandiose dreams of having borne
the Messiah. All his life, right to his stay in a Kibbutz at Israeli
Independence time, the hero grapples with this bizarre “role.”
His Indian friend’s teachings finally help him reappraise his
oppressive belief that he might be the Messiah. “Why not?” asks
the Indian. “I too might be; so might any man.” This novel
comes as close as any to detach itself, part of the time, from the
harrowing events of the Nazi era. More representative is Charles
L ’Enfant d’Israel
(Israel’s Child) with its idealized
Jew whose serene orthodoxy has sustained him through the loss
of his children in the camps and the intermarriage of his grand-
daughter. The novel, not too successfully, aims at some kind of
Jewish-Christian understanding, but in the process degenerates
into maudlin sentimentality.
Where Christians have resorted to fiction to depict Jews, they
have employed Jews who were hurt or hardened by the Nazi
peril. Guy de Cars’
Le Chateau de la Juive
(The Jewess’ Castle)
is hardly serious literature, but notable for its heroine permanent-
ly scarred, physically and psychically, by the Nazi trauma. This
Jewess has collapsed morally and her depravity drags others into
the mire with her. Henri Amouroux’s
Une Jeune Fille de Tel
Av iv
(A Girl from Tel Aviv) uses the Hitler era as a point of
departure, but transplants the heroine to the new State. Cultural
comparisons between old France and new Israel lend this book
a more than casual interest. Confronted with a choice of two
cultures, the heroine resolves, despite her love for the Frenchman,
to remain in Israel—the only country where a Jewess may stand
proud and erect.
We have not attempted a comprehensive survey of French Jew-
ish literature. Many promising young names have been omitted—
David Scheinert (Belgian), Jean Bloch-Michel (not primarily a
novelist), Isidore Isou (mainly a poet, however erratic) among
others. We have not included a major figure, Manes Sperber,
with Silone, Koestler and Malraux, one of that exclusive club of
former Communists who found this panacea wanting. Sperber,
of Central European origin, has written mostly in French and
today should be categorized a French writer. Sperber, because of
a brilliant though limited fictional output, requires more ex-
tensive analysis than can here be provided. The former radical
has demonstrated a Jewish consciousness which is the answer