Page 16 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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now. But instead he has been increasingly imperiled, or, in more
adequate theological language — damned. A great many people
have learned tha t the Jew can not be saved by diagnosis, especially
when tha t is unaccompanied by any sense of unquestioned values.
So many writers of recent years seemed to wallow in misery, after
the pat tern of Shakespeare’s Richard II , “ For God’s sake let us
sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings.”
Too many are the writers who seemed to have been bent on prov-
ing tha t “ life is a dark little pocket.” Quite inevitably, a time of
national and world disaster has turned multitudes to a search for
something by which the spirit can live, to positive affirmations.
The evidence of this change is found on every hand in the
Jewish literary output of recent years. Witness the flood of
works of positive affirmations, whether in one form or another, of
literary expression. They include not only new books but old
ones made available anew because of their positive worth as
affirmations of Jewish values.
I t is not strange tha t books which meet this hunger for affirma-
tions are having a sustained and expanding distribution and
reading. This is shown in many types of books published in the
past year. This interest is also reflected in the wide sale of solid
books in Jewish religious and ethical teachings, for example, such
books as the English versions of the
Guide jo r the perplexed
Moses Maimonides and the
Book of Kuzari
by Judah Halevi,
which demand sweat and sometimes tears, if not blood for their
reading and for which there was a demand for American editions
(New York, Pardes Publishing House, 1946).
The greatest need of the future in Jewish books is, it seems, to
throw off the incubus of technical language, amounting often to
a jargon alien to many potential readers. Far too few books on
Jews and Judaism are popular enough in their writing to fulfill
their greatest usefulness. To say this is not to plead for super-
ficiality. Sound scholarship need not be dull or deadly. The great
response given by a large host of readers to the works of Lewis
Browne, Ludwig Lewisohn and Maurice Samuel, who write with
charm as well as force, with imagination as well as learning, is
eloquent evidence of the popularity tha t awaits the writers who
can bring to their subject the color and fire and music the mate-
rial deserves.
More Jewish books are now being written, published, bought,
and read in this country than ever before. The reasons for this
are many. Firstly, the American Jewish community is now the