Page 46 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 4

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its quality; the number of outstanding works produced during
the period is considerable. Space will not allow even a brief
review of a large part of them. We will therefore limit ourselves
to a few of the most outstanding whose claim to permanence are,
in the judgment of the writer, well established. We will begin
with the late Simon Dubnow’s
Weltgeschichte des Judischen
in ten volumes. The work was originally composed in
Russian, but was published completely in a German translation
in the years 1925-29, and was later translated into Hebrew under
the title
Dibre Yeme Am Olam.
I t covers all of Jewish history
from the days of the Patriarchs to the year 1914. (A later volume
dealing with the years subsequent to that date was published
recently but has not reached me).
Jewish history is a field of learning cultivated with the greatest
zeal and energy by the scholars of the nineteenth century. I t is
they who during a century gradually erected its grand structure,
which was topped by the work of Heinrich Graetz,
Geschichte des
Judischen Volkes
, in twelve volumes, completed in 1870. For
a time it seemed, in view of the all-inclusiveness of Graetz’ His-
tory, that there was neither room nor need for a new work of
this type of similar magnitude except for a volume carrying on
the story from the year 1848, the
terminus ad quern
of Graetz to
the present time. But there is no limitation for a master builder,
and Dubnow proved that by his work, a complete new history
of a people which has the world as its stage of activity and mil-
lennia of time for the successions of its accomplishments. Dubnow,
like his great predecessor, possessed that quality, rare in most
historians, which enables the few to rise to a point of vantage
from which they can view the entire long process of a people’s
activity from its very beginning, and even catch a glimpse of the
secret of the nation’s creativity. Both of these historians were
endowed with the qualities which Carlyle considers as
sine quibus non
for writers of history, namely artisanship and art,
and they were thus able to coordinate these myriads of facts in
the past Jewish life into one whole and present its story in an
artistic manner. But there are degrees both in artisanship and
in art which differ from each other. I t is in these differences and
in nuances of emphasis, of presentation, and of expression that
the newness of Dubnow’s
consists, and hence its
value and permanence. W7e will attempt to trace these differences
according to the four fundamental elements or phases of which