Page 115 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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KAHN / THREE CENTRAL EUROPEAN WRITERS
109
tha t the road to internationalism was necessarily a direct one that
merely stepped blindly over national cultures and values. Instead
he leaned toward the view tha t in the development o f individual
cu ltures and respect for them, Jewish, German, French or
American, lay the ultimate hope for transna tiona l ideals. As for
anti-Semitism, Feuchtwanger was too ma tu re a political and social
th inke r — though sometimes wrong in his prognoses — to expect
any early evanescence o f this eternal disease.
BROD’S LOYALTIES
Whereas Wassermann warred with his Jewishness at least some
o f the time and Feuchtwanger was com fortable with it, ex ten ­
sively using it for literary purposes, Max Brod after initial indif­
ference became wholly committed to Juda ism , to Zionism, to e th ­
ical concepts he perceived in the Jewish tradition.
Brod a ttended the German language schools in the triply
divided city o f Prague. He began writing in his teens, while sup ­
po rting himself for many years, like his younger friend Kafka,
with a government job. For many years, too, he was the theatre
critic o f the Prager
Abendblatt.
His repu ta tion as a critic served him
well in 1918-19 when, du r ing anti-Semitic riots in the new Czech
state, he served in a leadership capacity in the Jewish National
Council. A Zionist since 1913, Brod undertook his first jou rn ey to
Palestine in 1928. T en years later he em igrated there, func­
tioning as an adviser to the Israel National Thea tre. He died in
late 1968.
B rod ’s intellectual evolution was more complex than his p e r ­
sonal life. His first works displayed the influence o f
Schopenhauer. He denied free will and espoused
Indifferentism.
Since Man could not control his own destiny, nothing mattered
and only a bland indifference made sense. By the time he wrote
Arnold Beer, The Story of a Jew
(1912), Indifferentism was on the
wane, its protagonist being guided by an old g randm o ther who
not only represents a residue o f the Jewish past, but speaks the
rarely transcribed Western-Jewish ja rgon so common in the Cen­
tral European village.
Among modern writers Brod is unquestionably one o f the most
complete and in tegrated Jews. In him national religious and cul­
tu ra l elements fuse into a harmonious whole. His faith in the Jew ­
ish religious and cultural tradition enables him to accept readily