Page 39 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 4

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27
BLOCH ----THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
were there, much more in the style of
The autobiography of Alice B.
Toklas
than in that of her books less understandable by the gen-
eral public.
Some of these days
, an autobiography by Sophie
Tucker (Garden City, N. Y., Doubleday, 1944), contains remin-
iscences of a popular night-club entertainer and stage star, while
There goes an actor
, by Alexander Granach, translated by Willard
Frank (Garden City, N. Y., Doubleday, 1945), is the posthumously
published autobiography of a great Jewish actor who began life
as a poor boy in Poland and by the hardest of work achieved a
scholarship in Max Reinhardt’s school in Berlin and acclaim in
many lands.
HISTORICAL FICTION
There is little historical fiction in this year’s output, and for
that matter, real good fiction of Jewish interest has been, on the
whole, far from abundant. To be sure, while Charles Reznikoff’s
The lionhearted
(Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of Am-
erica, 1944) is a magnificently told story, one that is remarkable
for the beauty of its style and the ingenuity of its construction,
it is too limited in scope to be compared with any of the historical
novels such as were produced a decade or two ago, say by Lion
Feuchtwanger, Israel I. Singer, and Shalom Asch. I t is a story
about the Jews in mediaeval England and the events it deals with
are historically authentic. The author weaves around the tragedies
of the riots in London during the coronation of Richard I and
the martyrdom of the Jews of York, a powerful story of love and
sacrifice. The novel brings to the forefront a promising talent for
historical fiction, a branch of literature, at present so sorely neg-
lected by Jewish writers. To historical fiction of Jewish interest
belongs J. M. Hartley’s
The way
(New York, Crowell, 1944). I t
presents the story of Severus, Roman centurion, who was sent to
Syria by Augustus Caesar to investigate rumors of a secret society
led by three wise men, who searched for a youth they had seen
last as a baby in a stable. Severus finds unrest and trouble; he
finds also Leah, a beautiful Jewish girl, whose love for the Roman
causes her own destruction. There is now, for some reason, a
widespread tendency to give prominence to romances involving
conflicts in the emotional relationships of Jewish and non-Jewish
young people. When such conflicts lead to intermarriage, there
is danger that some professional interfaith workers might advocate
it as an achievement worthy of frequent emulation. Such emo-
tional conflict is well described in
Earth and high heaven
, a novel
by Gwethalyne Graham [Erichsen Brown] (Philadelphia, Lippin-
cott, 1944). I t is a modern love story, with Montreal as its back-
ground, of the romance between the daughter of a prominent