Page 111 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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KAHN / THREE CENTRAL EUROPEAN WRITERS
105
pera te about the Jews’ chances ever to gain acceptance. Some
examples:
Futile (for the Jew) to act in exemplary fashion. They say:
We know nothing! We have seen nothing! We have heard
nothing!
Vain to seek obscurity. They say: T he coward! He is try­
ing to hide, driven by his evil conscience.
Futile to go among them and o ffer them one’s hand . They
say: Why does he take such liberties with his Jewish in tru ­
siveness?
Writing some time la ter in
Lebensdienst
(A Life’s Service), the
writer pointed to Rathenau, patriot ex traord inaire, noble soul,
miracle worker, man o f spirit. He was not welcome, and was
viewed as the e ternal alien. It is all reminiscent o f Auerbach
declaring toward the end o f his life tha t he had lived in vain.
Wassermann was working on “Ahasver,” a novel o f Jewish
destiny, when he died. Little did he suspect tha t less than a decade
la ter even the option o f migration would be closed. . . .
FEUCHTWANGER’S JEWISHNESS
Lion Feuchtwanger, born in Munich o f an orthodox and well-
to-do family, was prone to say that his brain though t international
while his heart beat Jewish. It is significant tha t this au thor, who in
his youth rebelled against the orthodoxy o f his home, wrote his
best and seemingly most lasting novels on Jewish subjects. His
Jew
Suess (Power
in an American edition) has lived on and his
Josephus trilogy — the story o f the Jewish-Roman historian —
may well be the finest specimen o f Jewish historical fiction.
The
Oppermanns
(1934), written in some haste as a quick response to
H itler’s initial assault on Jews, may well be the first book on the
Holocaust. In spite o f the literary shortcomings o f
The
Oppermanns,
the novel depicts splendidly a German-Jewish
u rban and sophisticated family at the time o f H itler’s accession to
power. Two decades later,
Raquel or theJewess of Toledo
(1956) was
to be a reprise o f Jew Suess, the story o f a Spanish Court Jew
whose daugh ter falls prey to the lust o f a Christian king. Finally,
his biblical novel
Jephta
(1957), acclaimed by many as a crowning
achievement, has struck others as Feuchtwanger past his prime.
But Jews also appear frequently in such novels as
Success,
p e r ­