Page 60 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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52
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
good temper, one cannot condemn him out o f hand for that. J u ­
bal stands as the first Jewish au thor in Australia writing in Eng­
lish to address himself to the Holocaust and to some o f the moral-
philosophical issues that emerge from it.
Australian Jewish writers, by and large, do not fall into recog­
nizable groupings or appear to form strong literary friendships
based on shared thematic and stylistic concerns. The re is in effect
little cross-fertilization. Unlike the American scene, there are just
not enough Jewish writers around to be considered when com­
parisons are made, and, so often, their origins and the influences
acting upon them are so widely different from each o ther in any
case.
KINDRED SPIRITS
But there is an exception. Th ree writers who seem to fall to­
gether are Pinchas Goldhar, Herz Bergner and the younger J u ­
d ah W a ten . Severa l conn e c t ion s b ind th em . T h e y were
contemporaries, intimately acquainted. The ir ages were not too
widely disparate: Goldhar was born in 1901, Bergner in 1907,
Waten in 1911. All were migrants; Goldhar from Lodz, Bergner
from Galicia and Waten from Odessa, albeit still as a young boy.
The ir politics were decidedly left-wing, perhaps not so accept­
able today, but understandable at a time when Soviet Russia in
the 30’s and 40’s was seen as the sole bulwark against the spread
o f National Socialism. Moreover, J u d a h Waten tran s la ted
Bergner’s
Between Sky and Sea
and other pieces from Yiddish; he
was on the editorial committee which published Goldhar’s post­
humous
Gezamlte Shriftn
(Collected Writings) in 1949; and had
himself been encouraged by Goldhar to write his reminiscences
o f childhood in fictional form, the fruit o f which was Waten’s
A l­
ien Son.
And lastly, their literary style was that o f social realism,
or, as they preferred to call it, social humanism, their themes
dealing often with the trials faced by Jewish migrants to Australia
and with the underprivileged in society, the neglected and the
outsider. Waten was in time to cast his thematic net more widely
— to crime and corruption, to politics and economic oppression
— but his best regarded work is that dealing with immigrant life
in Australia.
Goldhar, in his writings, was a thoroughgoing pessimist. Born
in Lodz, he had served his literary apprenticeship and worked as