Page 141 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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BENTON / THE WORLD OF CHARLES ANGOFF
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accounted for in the second volume, “In the Morning Light.”
T he succeeding volumes, especially “Summer Storm,” “The Bitter
Spring,” and “Memory of Autumn,” are set against the back­
ground of the First World War, the hectic Twenties, and the
Depression of the early Thirties, all revealing his profound
scholarship.
This total world outlook is characteristic of all Angoff’s writ­
ings. There is nothing parochial or insular in any of the novels.
The emotional impact of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 was
monumental on the entire Angoff family, as well as on the Jewish
people living in far-flung lands. In both “The Morning Light”
and “The Sun at Noon” this historic declaration is discussed
and analyzed with deep knowledge and insight. One of the real
values of Angoff’s writings is tha t he fully explores the social
and political issues of the Twentieth Century through characters
and their situations in life.
David Polonsky is cast in the role of spectator through whose
eyes the entire story is seen. He distills the very essence of the
Jewish experience which, while laid in America, is the prism of
all galut Jewry. Angoff’s delineation of the many worlds in
which his characters struggle, succeed or fail, is surely based
on his own rich experiences and observations.
The American Mercury,
edited by H. L. Mencken and George
Jean Nathan, offered Angoff an editing job in 1925. Being asso­
ciated with the most prestigious magazine of the day was quite
a feather in the cap of the young journalist. To move to New
York was exhilirating, despite the trauma of leaving his beloved
family in Boston. Poetry, stories, reviews, literary and dramatic
criticism were all the ou tpu t of the new assistant editor. But
let me go back a bit. Young Charles had had a journalistic
job—actually several of them—in the Boston area, bu t he
realized there was no future in these jobs, so he wrote to many
newspapers and magazines applying for a job. Among those
who answered were Walter Lippmann, then editor of the New
York
World,
John Finley, editor of the New York
Times
and
Frank Knox, editor of the Manchester, New Hampshire
Union,
bu t only H. L. Mencken offered the young man a bona fide job
on
The American Mercury.
T he salary was $40 a week, very
good for those days. T he job made possible the exciting pros­
pect of telephoning and writing to such authors as Sinclair