Page 75 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 31

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A. ALAN STEINBACH
A. M. Klein (1909-1972)
A Memorial Tribute
1
W h e n t h e r o y a l s o c i e t y
of Canada awarded its Lorne Pierce
Gold Medal to Abraham Moses Klein in 1957 “for his sustained
and distinguished contribution to Canadian writing,” the presi-
dent of the Royal Society, Dr.
W .
Kaye Lamb, said: “The law
may bring A. M. Klein his living, but it is four little books of
poetry that have brought him to the notice of the nation, and
to this platform this evening. . . . Proud of a great heritage,
he reflects very vividly in his work the richness of that heritage
and the power of historic patterns of faith and ritual. . . . We feel
confident that he is contributing a permanent page to the litera-
ture of this country.”
The “four little books of poetry” alluded to above are
Hath
No t a Jew
(1940),
The Hi t ler iad
(1944),
Poems
(1944),
The
Rock ing Chair
(1947). His only novel,
The Second Scroll
(1951)
—which will be discussed later—revolves around the theme of the
persecuted “Wandering Jew,” and was adjudged by a sophis-
ticated critic “as one of the finest books in the English language
literature of the Jewish people.” There were also other prose
writings, and numerous translations of the works of both Hebrew
and Yiddish poets. In 1954 illness compelled him to give up writ-
ing, but his precious corpus of literary creations has assured him
a permanent altar in the pantheon of both Canadian and Jewish
literature.
A. M. Klein was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1909; his par-
ents Kalman and Yetta Klein emigrated in 1905 from Ratno in
Russian Poland. He received an excellent Jewish education,
which included Hebrew, Yiddish, and Aramaic, at the Kerem
Israel Talmud Torah; and fortunately, this was implemented by
inspiration he derived from his religious home. He became knowl-
edgeable in Bible, Talmud, and classic philosophical literature.
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