Page 102 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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J
e w i s h
B
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A
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her happiest strokes of self-portraiture. We watch the dear
woman growing gray and credulous before our very eyes.”
After leaving
The Menorah Journal,
Lowenthal remained a
free lance, anchorless, w ithout the increasing prestige of an
academic position or the limelight of a journalistic sinecure.
Nursing his love of books and Jewish culture, he sought pro-
jects tha t would give him a congenial means of livelihood.
W it and wisdom had always excited his admiration, and
writers like Heine and Montaigne profoundly influenced him.
(In the last decade of his life he devoted himself to a study
which he entitled
The Laughing Philosophers,
bu t which re-
mained unfinished at his death.) Living in France and reading
the great French works in the original, he was most attracted
to Montaigne’s
Essays
and letters. I t occurred to him tha t a
proper editing would transform them into an authentic auto׳■
biography. Published in 1935, the title page accurately de-
scribes the nature of the book:
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE—
Comprising
the life of the wisest man of his times: his childhood, youth,
and prime; his adventures in love and marriage, at court,
and in office, war, revolution, and plague; his travels at
home and abroad; his habits, tastes, whims, and opinions.
Selected, arranged, edited, prefaced, and mostly trans-
lated anew from his essays, 8cc., withholding no signal or
curious detail, by
M
a r v in
L
o w e n t h a l
.
The arrangement provides a clear and coherent narrative of
Montaigne’s life and thought, freed from the elusiveness, enig-
mas, and presumed contradictions troubling most readers of
the
Essays.
The introduction stresses Montaigne’s “bold opin-
ions,” his “frank assault on injustice and treachery,” his pas-
sive, tolerant, and skeptical attitude; his greatness of char-
acter in perceiving “that nothing could save society bu t the
willingness of men to live and let live.”
A Tragic Saga of German Jewry
In 1933 the Jewish Publication Society commissioned Lowen-
thal to write
The Jews of Germany
:
A Story of Sixteen Centu-
ries.
As early as 1923, witnessing the emergence of Hitlerism,
he had written: “A nationalist victory appears plausible, bu t
whether it be swift and decisive is far from certain; in either
case the Jews are doomed to suffer a concerted effort to drive
them into a new ghetto.” Five years later he was grieved to