Page 130 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Europe, Canada, and the United States. In portraying the old
Yiddish world that comes to life in these three books, Dr. Liptzin
uses a broad brush and a lavish palette,, with the result that an
unforgettable canvas unfolds before us. He enriches his canvas
by innoculating it with a deep humanism.
The Jew in American L iterature
is a penetrating and learned
survey, dealing with the thought associations in the minds of
Americans when the word Jew is mentioned; thought associations
that come through in American literary works, Jewish and non-
Jewish. This exhaustive study provides a reliable guide to the
understanding of the American Jew in American belles-letitres
from the Colonial era to the present. The image and self-image
of the Jew are revealed in the writings over those years; and since
the Jew has become a culture hero since the 1960’s in American
literature, Dr. Liptzin discusses the alternatives from which
American Jews can choose.
In
Germany’s Stepchildren
written thirty years ago, Dr. Liptzin
deals with the crucial question: What was the attitude of German
writers of Jewish origin to the duality within their souls—German
and Jew? He analyzes the eighteen different solutions—ranging
from baptism to Zionism—that appeared in the lives and works
of German-Jewish men-of-letters. He hoped that the soul-search-
ings of these writers might lead to an understanding of the prob­
lem of Jewish cultural duality in all Diaspora lands, including
the problem of American Jews.
Fifteen years later his thinking crystallized in
Generation of
Decision: Jewish Rejuvenation in America,
which in essence is
his credo. It deals with the problem of biculturalism on the
American scene, the impact of the Jew upon the American mind
and the repercussions of that impact upon the Jewish psyche and
the Jewish character. In its conclusion it has an aura of apocalyp­
tic overtones. Dr. Liptzin realizes that the present crisis in civili­
zation not only imperils the future of minorities, but threatens
the survival of the human species as a whole. However, “if man
should emerge from the present crisis unbrutalized and not re­
duced to the status of a robot, then minorities may well be
accorded room in which to flourish.” And he concludes: “A
Golden Age of Jewishness is a possibility in America,, and in
Israel.”
Behind his art stands the artist. Behind his verse stands the