Page 117 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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KAHN / THREE CENTRAL EUROPEAN WRITERS
111
exist. T he Magen David strikes Brod as the very symbol o f this
connection: two triangles so intertwined as to have both parts
seem one indissoluble figure. God is one!
M. Pazi o f the University o f Tel Aviv and B rod’s brilliant
b iographe r, has summarized B rod’s conception as follows: Ju d a ­
ism links the fate o f the world and o f God and sees the rela tion­
ship as a dynamic one: Man as well as God supports the world.
God is the primary force; He created the world, but Man, by
recognizing it as divinely created, preserves it. (Pazi
, Max Brod,
p.
61
)
Once Brod had conceived o f the “specialness” o f Judaism and
its particu lar ethical message, he devoted the bulk o f his work to
these principles. T he figures o f his historical novels, Tycho
Brahe, Galileo, Reubeni, Jesus o f Nazareth are symbols, again to
quote Pazi, “o f the creative, active individual who, transcending
the possibilities given to him, wants to be a par t o f building the
fu tu re which shall be made better, more genuine, happ ie r” (p.
86). Or, in the words o f ano ther critic, Brod himself, as a con­
scious Jew, will fight for the good and battle evil. It was with calls
to constructive deeds — the very opposite o f the Indifferentism
with which he began — tha t Brod concluded the last qua r te r o f his
oeuvre.
It must be against this backdrop o f his faith in Judaism and the
Jewish national idea, and above all its ethical component, that
B rod ’s mature work should be judged . Applying conventional lit­
erary criteria to B rod ’s work would be un fa ir both to him and the
work.
T h re e Jewish writers whose main body o f work was published
in the first half o f this century, writers o f d ifferen t purposes,
visions, talents. They were also writers involved in the increas­
ingly complex destiny o f Jews and with d iffe ren t attitudes that
were equally distinctive. From the ambivalent, occasionally self-
hating Jew Jakob Wassermann, th rough the relaxed, conscious
Jew, Lion Feuchtwanger, to the self-assertive Jew, Max Brod, the
th ree rep resen ted the widest range o f attitudes toward the ir Jew ­
ishness and the host culture. All three had in common the wish to
be free, natura l human beings, not oppressed by any defensive or
reactive psychology, bu t they certainly did not see eye to eye on
how to achieve this goal.