Page 124 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
other correspondent has produced in the way of eyewitness
accounts of that war. And his narration of his discovery of the
death camps and their surviving victims is a landmark in Holo­
caust literature and World War II writing. Had he written only
In Search
(the record of his youthful journalistic experiences,
his war travels, his work with Jewish survivors, his two motion
picture projects—actually continuations of his first-hand Holo­
caust and war reports, and the Israeli struggle for Independence),
it would have been sufficient.
The Still Small Voice.
Are we dealing here with an irrepress­
ible conscience, an ancestral memory, a warning signal? Levin’s
sense of his own Jewishness, rendered all the more alert by child­
hood slings and arrows and by the tragic circumstances of his
first marriage, to a non-Jewish lady, is a peculiarly pervasive in­
fluence on his life and on his artistic creativity. Most of his books
deal specifically with Jewish matters, as though he is unable to
forget something basic and will never let his readers (and movie
viewers) forget; he has even produced
An Israel Haggadah for
Passover
and edited (with Charles Angoff) an anthology of
excerpts from Jewish novels,
The R ise of American Jewish L iter­
ature;
his latest book, a novelette titled
The Spell of T im e
(1974), is an Israeli love triangle illuminated by the Jerusalem
mystique. The insistence of this still small voice calling, “Come
ye back, ye Jewish writer, come ye back to Is-ra-el,” may be heard
throughout
In Search.
(By Israel I refer to the Jewish people as
a continuum in space-time.)
It may be examined more readily in his concise essay, “What
Is An American Jewish Writer?”, in the May 19, 1972 issue of
Congress bi-Weekly.
Here he stated plainly (p. 22) that of all the
influences and materials acting on him, “the Jewish part is closest
to me.” And, he concluded (p. 24), “the aim of [his] tenden­
tiousness” in his writing is “To portray a world, evil as it may
be, wherein the individual and the group can still fight for an
overall society of freedom and justice in which, for our particular
part, the Jewish ethos and identity shall, unfettered, fruitfully
continue toward its prophetic perception of what God wants of
man.”
The Fanatic.
Levin felt, as he explained in
The Search,
that
the tragic epic of the Holocaust was really beyond his scope as