Page 31 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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BUTOVSKY /A .M . KLEIN
23
of these languages was the experience he gained with the nature
of language itself. He was especially intrigued with the way lan­
guages interpose themselves on one another, the subtle changes
wrought by time on the meaning of words, and the very viability
of rendering meaningful a text in translation. Thus a potent
legacy of linguistic awareness accrued to him, shaping his sen­
sibility and furnishing him with the verbal means whereby he
would recreate the complex cultural ambience of his city in his
impressive final poems.
From his home Klein absorbed the simple piety of his
workingclass hasidic father and an emotional affinity for the
ceremonial wealth of daily practices which governed the life
of traditional believers. He received his formal Jewish education
from private tutors and at a Talmud Torah, where certain of
his tutors left a sufficient impression on him to be recalled later
as subjects of his poems. It was at Baron Byng High School
— famed as the hothouse for the development of numerous
Jewish talents — that he came in contact with the world of hu ­
mane learning, especially the esthetic forms of English litera­
ture; the romantic poets in particular making an indelible im­
pression upon him. Later at McGill University he majored in
classics, political science and economics, and began to contribute
to student publications. Following his graduation he took his
law degree at the University of Montreal, marking the onset
of his dual career as lawyer and man of letters. His legal practice
was never overtaxing and he supplemented his income by writ­
ing for Jewish organizations. For many years he served as
speechwriter for the liquor-magnate Sam Bronfman, who pre­
sided as leader of the Canadian Jewish Congress during the
critical war years. And from 1938 until 1955 he was the editor
of a weekly,
The Canadian Jewish Chronicle,
which carried his
editorial opinion on all the burning social and political issues
of those dark decades along with countless literary essays, book
reviews, and cultural commentary. It was in this modest peri­
odical that the bulk of Klein’s writing appeared and the fact
that he was restricted to a parochial weekly under his own ed­
itorship must have weighed heavily on his self-esteem.
Klein’s public life extended beyond his publications. For a
time he found outlets for his considerable energies in the po­
litical realm as well, enlisting himself in post-war Canadian pol­
itics as well as mobilizing Jewish public opinion on behalf of