Page 155 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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RIBALOW / MEYER LEVIN
149
My Father’s House
(1947) and
Eva
(1959) are novels set in Israel,
but they deal primarily with the effect of the Holocaust on Jews, a
young boy and a woman. Very late in his career, Levin wrote
other novels on Israel,
The Settlers
(1972) and
The Harvest
(1978) in
which he recounts, in fictional form, the history of modern
Zionism, through the Chaimovitch family. He weaves real, living
people through his account, and friendly critics have called the
volumes “the Jewish
War and Peace."
Unfriendly critics continued
to see little merit in Levin’s recent work, including
The Architect
(1982), posthumously published, about Frank Lloyd Wright. But
The Settlers
and
The Harvest
are extraordinarily comprehensive
accounts of twentieth century Jewish life.
Levin has written too many books to be dealt with individually,
so I shall stress only a few.
The Fanatic
is a novel about his obses­
sion with the Anne Frank story. The second volume of his au­
tobiography,
The Obsession,
also deals directly with the Anne
Frank diary and Levin’s dramatization of the book. And his
remarkable
In Search
(1950) is also deeply involved with the
Holocaust as well as Levin’s novelistic and journalistic life. I shall
return to these books.
FAMOUS DIARY
The Anne Frank controversy radically altered Levin’s career. I
was, in a very minor way, a witness to the entire story. Shortly after
the issuance of
In Search,
I talked with Levin about his contribut­
ing an article to a special book issue of
Congress Weekly.
He then
told me of a book he had read in French, not yet available in
English, which he wished to discuss. At first I objected about
giving space to a book unavailable to the American reader and
written in a foreign language. His passion persuaded me and we
did publish his essay on
The Diary of Anne Frank.
Later he in­
formed me that Doubleday was making the book available in an
English translation with a preface by Eleanor Roosevelt.
When the Diary was ultimately published in English transla­
tion, Levin wrote an eloquent front-page review for the Sunday
Times Book Review, and the Diary became an immediate national
best-seller.
In his novel
The Fanatic
(1964), in his autobiography
The Obses­
sion
(1973) and in his privately published version of the play
Anne
Frank,
as performed in Israel under the direction of Peter Frye,