Page 73 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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hea lthy m an ife s ta t io n , th o u g h it is c lea r th a t th e I s ra e l i
authorities are ambivalent about it.
Because much o f the publishing is done on individual initiative
and by newly organized publishing houses, it bears the marks of
emigre publication everywhere: rap id birth and often high mor­
tality, amateurism, ideological preoccupations, and a grappling
with problems o f identity. To the great credit of the au tho rs and
editors, one will often find opposing points o f view p resen ted in
the same jou rna l or authors o f a particular inclination publishing
their works in a variety o f journals. Some o f this is no doub t due to
commercial considerations, but anyone familiar with East Eu ro ­
pean emigre politics knows that this must be reckoned a major
victory for tolerance and open-mindedness.
Russian-language publications in Israel can be classified in
several categories: dictionaries, language primers and reference
works; works on Jewish history and, especially, Zionism; biog­
raphies, again mostly o f Zionist figures; religious works and
works about religion; fiction; and periodicals. A rough calcula­
tion shows tha t most o f the non-fiction has been translated from
Hebrew, Yiddish or English. About two-thirds o f the fiction has
also been translated, mostly from Hebrew and English, and the
rest consists o f Russian works which are either no longer pub ­
lished, or were never published, in the Soviet Union, and original
prose and poetry written by the imm igrants in Israel or “for the
drawer” in the USSR.
It must be remembered that many o f the Russian emigre works
published in France, Germany, England and the United States —
the works o f Solzhenitsyn, for example — are available in Israel in
at least fou r bookstores specializing in Russian publications.
These stores also sell Soviet publications, including periodical
literature, and though it is not easy to determ ine the popularity of
the various genres, my impression is tha t there is a small but
faithful audience even for Soviet specialized publications, p a r ­
ticularly in fields such as chess, sports, and certain branches of
science and industry, as well as belles-lettres. Moreover, since
books are the most prized possessions o f Soviet
, and
since most o f them can be shipped ou t o f the USSR, there are
impressive private collections o f Soviet books in Israel. All of