Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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17
BLOCH----THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
twenty-five years of educational activities in Palestine and of
their current state and problems. No student of Palestine should
miss the charmingly written work on
The river Jordan
; being an
illustrated account of ear th’s most storied river by Nelson Glueck
(Philadelphia, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1946). The
author, who is professor at the Hebrew Union College and director
of The American School of Oriental Research at Jerusalem, tells
the story of the Jordan, its place in biblical and secular history, the
people and cities tha t exist along its banks. I t is a veritable trea-
sure tor all who love the Bible and the Holy Land and is written
with learning, personality, and spiritual feeling. Additionally,
it is illustrated with extraordinary photographs.
JEWISH NOVELS
A goodly number of Jewish novels have appeared during the
year. One does not mean tracts disguised as fiction, but works
which by every criteria of tha t exacting art, qualify as genuine
novels. Alfred Kazin says, in one of his penetrating book reviews,
tha t “ the total intellectual and religious life” of the major novelist
flows into his work. I t can not be otherwise. We now see this
happening in the case of the Jewish novelists who write in English:
for example, Ludwig Lewisohn, Charles Reznikoff and others.
These novelists do not preach; they show Jewish teachings at
work in the lives of people with whom the majority of readers
have much in common. This is well exemplified in Ludwig Lewi-
sohn’s very fine compilation of
Jewish short stories
(New York,
Behrman, 1945) “written by Jews out of a Jewish consciousness
concerning the character and destiny of Jews” (Preface). Jews
of olden times or of today form the characters of these stories.
A psychological character study of a Jewish newspaperman whose
denial of his heritage finally leads to a need of psychiatric care is
offered by Ruth Seid [Jo Sinclair, pseud.] in her novel
Wasteland
(New York, Harper, 1946). I t is the story of the evil psychological
consequences tha t beset one who tries to escape one’s Jewishness.
I t describes the disintegration and reintegration of an immi-
grant Russian Jewish family, one of the innumerable families
tha t arrived early this century. I t tells of the spiritual separation
of a Jewish boy from his people and family, and his re-identification
with them twenty years later. The confused, painful adolescence
of a young Jewish boy in Chicago and his unhealthy emotional
at tachment to an aunt is described by Isaac Rosenfeld in his novel
Passage from home
(New York, Dial Press, 1946). A collection of
psychological, impressionistic stories and a play based on the