Page 64 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

Basic HTML Version

56
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
are not as intensely and obsessively agonized over as in the writ­
ings o f his contemporaries; the work is “pu re ” in that political-
ideological stances have not yet entered into his story-telling.
A different book is
The Unbending
(1954), Waten’s first novel,
published two years later. Here, a Jewish family settles near Perth
in 1912 and becomes involved with all the excitement and con­
flicts over conscription that attend the outbreak o f World War I.
There is poignancy in the depiction of the trials o f this family, to
be sure, but the story portrays also the social and political atmos­
phere o f the day.
O ther novels then followed:
Shares in Murder
(1957), a tale o f
murder that moves through worlds of vice, crime and business;
Time of Conflict (
1961), a particularly controversial novel set in the
Depression years and contrasting idealism and ambition;
Distant
Land
(1964), a re tu rn to the problems o f adjustment o f an immi­
grant family in Australia, in a tale particularly reminiscent of
Bergner’s
Light and Shadow
;
Season o f Youth
(1966), telling o f the
boyhood adolescence and early manhood o f a young Australian
writer in Melbourne and Sydney during the Depression years;
and
So Far, No Further
(1917) which, by relating the love affair
between a Jewish girl and an Italian boy, explores the conflicts
experienced by immigrant adolescents. Waten’s latest novel,
Scenes o f Revolutionary Life
(1982), set in Melbourne and London
in the late twenties and thirties, tells o f a young Communist who
is politically committed to the Communist movement but is
nonetheless torn between a literary and a revolutionary life.
In 1978, Waten published a collection o f stories entitled
Love
and Rebellion
and united by their concern for the “unde rdog” in
an alien and sometimes hostile, environment. Here he attains to a
ce r ta in cosm opo litan ism which em b races I ta l ia n , G reek ,
Aborigine, Jew, as well as delinquent youth, the meek public ser­
vant and the maimed soldier.
Waten’s ou tpu t has been quite formidable. He has established
for himself a place in Australian literature, although, for all his
excursions into politics, social comment and deployment o f what
shall here loosely be called “secular” themes, it is most likely for
his work on migrants that he will most endure.
‘IMPROBABLE WRITER ’
While on the subject of cosmopolitanism, one must inevitably
move on to David Martin, (born Ludwig Detsinyi in 1915) whom