Page 7 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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JACOB KABAKOFF
Introduction
T h e
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
on “Continuity and T ran s­
formation: Jewish L iterature Since World War I I ,” convened last
year un d e r the auspices o f the Rockefeller Foundation , served
once again to sharpen the problem o f the Jewish secular writer in
the post-Enlightenment era. T h e leading Jewish writers and crit­
ics from a round the world who met at the Bellagio Study and
Conference Cen ter du ring November 29-December 3, 1982,
exchanged views and opinions concerning contemporary
Hebrew and Yiddish literature, as well as the contributions of
Jewish writers in America, Europe, Israel and the Latin American
countries.
Basic to the discussions were such perennial questions as: Is
there a common core to the Jewish literary enterprise? What con­
stitutes authentic Jewish writing? Is language a
sine qua non
for
judg ing the Jewishness o f the Jewish writer? How can Jewish
authors writing in languages o the r than Hebrew or Yiddish con­
tribute Jewishly to general culture? These and similar questions
have ever been uppermost in the modern period wherever Jewish
writers have been in the fo re fron t o f literary production . Far too
often, Jewish writers, in the ir desire to be accepted as par t o f gen­
eral literature, have sloughed o ff the ir own Jewishness.
T he conference coordinator, Steven D. Lavine, has indicated
that the papers and discussions are being edited for fu tu re publi­
cation. They will undoubtedly prove to be o f param oun t interest
to all who are concerned with Jewish writing and identity. That
this is the case may be seen from the sample pape r by Cynthia
Ozick, a conference participant, which has been published in
Commentary (75:2, February 1983) unde r the title “Bialik’s
H int.”
Ozick, a highly respected figure on the American literary
scene, has long advocated the fusing o f Jewish ideas with litera­
ture and the extension o f traditional Jewish values into contem­
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