Page 143 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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Jewish individuality rather than cooperative planning. A com­
parison between the various versions of individual plays would
probably answer the question whether a planned effort for trans­
lating the entire Shakespearean oeuvre or a major part of the
oeuvre would have benefited Hebrew literature more than indi­
vidual translations.
The Hebrew version of “Macbeth” by Silkiner appeared in
Warsaw after his death. It was one of the four last books, together
The Lives of the Caesars
(De Vita Caesarum) by Caius
Suetonius Tranquillus in the version of Menahem Mendel Stein,
this author’s book of essays on foreign poets,
Tehiyah U-Tehiyah
(Revolt and Revival in Poetry) and
(Wesele) by
the Polish poet Stanislaw Wyspiariski in Ber Pomeranc’s version,
to be published before the rape of Poland by Germany in 1939.
Like the translation by Tschernichowsky, the translation by Sil­
kiner is far from being the ideal version. Both suffered from the
archaic stress on penultimate syllables in multisyllable words — a
centuries-old practice in Slavic lands, superseded by the Israeli
rhythms and enunciations. Both were hampered by meager ling­
ual resources in their translations, both lacked precision and both
misunderstood Shakespeare in some passages. The Shake­
spearean elan as well as his passion failed to illuminate the pedes­
trian and rather lacklustre Hebrew translations. Silkiner’s
conservative attitude to Hebrew was no fitting preparation for his
rendition of Shakespeare.
As editor and lexicographer Silkiner showed superior abilities
and better judgment than as translator. The purity and the re­
finement of his style marked his contribution to Hebrew periodi­
cals in America, and his activity as co-editor of the monthly
from its first appearance in June 1913 influenced the
style of future editors and writers. But his participation in the
editorial work was brief and fitful as the appearance of the
periodical which changed into a weekly on March 3, 1916, and
continued to appear as a weekly till March 18, 1921. Then, in May
1921, it re-appeared as a monthly and expired four and a half
years later — in December 1925.
A pioneering venture by Silkiner was his co-editorship of the