Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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74
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
Since Bashevis became a best seller in English, it has
implied by Yiddishists and by those who have no use for Yid
that he has been running down the language and its litera
dismissing it as a dying language. But I have found his att
to the language in which he grew up and in which he
does his writing, much more understanding and respectful
this suggests. “Every Yiddish writer must answer this quest
he has said: “Why write in a language our children can no lo
read? When I write in Yiddish it is not because I am an o
ist about Yiddish. It is because a language does not die so
as its culture exists. Hebrew was thought dead for nearly
thousand years, but it was not dead. A language in which p
create is not dead. It can flourish again. Even if Yiddish
cease to be a spoken language it will not be dead. Its cul
will go on living and working. The future of Yiddish is
dependent on whether a large or a small number of Jews
speak Yiddish. The future of Yiddish depends on wheth
will produce work of value. Of course, we must not abandon
effort that Jews should speak and read Yiddish and educate
children in Yiddish. But it is clear that Yiddish is beco
a culture language, an instrument not of daily use, but for pre
ing cultural values. It is becoming a language of sentiment
history. That fact places a greater responsibility on Yiddish wri
They must put all their weight on quality. A Yiddishist,
understand it, must believe in Yiddishkeit and in the Je
people. He must love the Land of Israel and the Hebrew langu
He must not ignore or deny any period in Jewish history.
must see Yiddish not as some separate manifestation, but as
of the vessels through which the Jewish soul expresses it
There is no real difference between Yiddish and Hebrew
even Aramaic. All three are facets of the Jewish spirit.”
If Bashevis, who has a demon in him, is to survive the pre
fashion which has made him a hero of the new “ Fleshly Sch
it will be not because of the things which have brought
him the wrath of the “Yiddish Literary Establishment,”
because of the very fine writing in some of his books, w
place him deservedly at the side of his brother, I. J. Singer,
brother, my teacher and master in literature. I am still lear
from him and his work.”
The experimental novelists of our time are very importa
Proust, Gide, Kafka, Joyce, Lawrence, Virginia Woolf. But
does the poet Louis MacNeice “ doubt if I should like
Ul
so much if I did not know the smell of Dublin” ? “And
Virginia Woolf,” he says, “ I re-read her for nostalgia and rhyt
He concludes: “Why is Dickens the only earlier novelist th
often re-read?” Is it because these up-to-date guilt comple
the symbolism of violence, of shock and confusion, the lust