Page 147 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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NASH / JABOTINSKY — MASTER FEUILLETONIST
139
calmness he emulated in such writers as Singred Undset. Her
work was “written in a sophisticated, calm manner, without sen­
timentalism, born of the placid and powerful artistic perception
of truly classic literary creations.” Admittedly, the frequency of
Jabotinsky’s defiant interpolations increases in his articles of the
late twenties. Commenting, for example, on the exhibit of biblical
paintings by Abel Pann, Jabotinsky writes expansively on his
“heroes,’4Rebekah, “a woman cast from the same metal as Lady
Macbeth and Lucrecia Borgia,” and her son Jacob,
the man who has no parallel among other historical figures
in the complexity and richness of his nature: wheeling-
and-dealing yet contesting with the Deity, a crook yet a
gallant knight, a vagabond yet a patriarch, a man of a single
love yet the husband of several wives— “the first
zhid
on the
face of the earth.”
With ever increasing militancy his feuilleton of 1932 expresses
admiration for a notorious Jewish “double-agent.” Yevno Azef
seems to have worked to undermine the Czarist police from
within the organization for unknown reasons. Jabotinsky
theorizes that Azef was shocked by the complicity of the police in
the Kishinev pogrom of 1903 and its aftermath, and that, while
remaining a police officer, Azef collaborated with the enemies of
Plehve and his corrupt Czarist regime. Jabotinsky hails such dup­
licity for a holy cause. He affirms a “Robin-Hood” ethic, and he
cites lovingly as his model the hero of Sholem Asch’s story “God of
Vengeance.” The latter was the proprietor of a house of prostitu­
tion, who kept a
sefer-Torah
on the second floor of the dwelling.
Jabotinsky’s enthronement of the holy rogue seems complete.
It would therefore be ludicrous to maintain that Jabotinsky’s
temperament and style remained the same in 1930 as it was in
1910. Nevertheless, there are traces of his earlier, more balanced,
classical, humanitarian, self-critical and philosophical tone even
in his militant articles. That tone recurs very noticeably in a
gripping 1930 feuilleton on the book
Lobagola, the Autobiography of
a Wild African.
Lobagola, a professing black Jew from Dahomey,
had been a volunteer with Jabotinsky in the Jewish Legion. Hav­
ing been educated in Scotland, Lobagola was an unusually articu­
late man of proud African bearing and keen intellect. He was
demoralized by the way the Jewish soldiers treated him in the