Page 32 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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The output of Jewish historical fiction is still meager. The
need for historical novels can not be gainsaid. The more such
works are written by competent hands, the greater the interest
in the experience of the past and the hope for the future. One is
therefore grateful even for the few titles tha t made their appear-
ance during the year.
For the sake of heaven
by Mar tin Buber,
translated from the German by Ludwig Lewisohn (Philadelphia,
Jewish Publication Society of America, 1945) is a superb example
of stimulating historical fiction. I t is a work in which the oneness
of Israel is typified in a story of three holy leaders in Polish Jewry
of the Napoleonic period: one who shared the conflicts of his age,
one who withdrew to contemplation, and a third who befriended
both of them equally. Zalman Shneour, the greatest of contem-
porary Hebrew poets, is also the author of several successful
novels. In his
Song of the Dnieper
, a novel translated from the
Yiddish by Joseph Leftwich (New York, Roy, 1945) he presents
the story of a small village on the banks of the Dnieper and of the
Jewish fight against oppression in the years before World War I.
A portion of the book was published in New York in 1936 under
the title
Noah Pandre.
The present publication represents the
first complete edition in English of Shneour’s panorama of a small
Russo-Jewish river town and the passionate life of its people. It
is an absorbing story with powerfully evoking scenes and charac-
ters and rich in description of Jewish folk-ways.
The old country
by Sholom Aleichem, translated from the Yiddish by Julius and
Frances Butwin (New York, Brown, 1946) is a collection of folk
stories by the well known Yiddish satyrist simply told but rich
in humor and warmth. Amusing stories of a mythical Jewish
community filled with fabulously foolish and gullible people are
available in
The wise men of Helm
, and their merry tales by Sol-
omon Simon; illustrated by Lillian Fischel [translated from the
Yiddish by Ben Bengal and David Simon] (New York, Behrman,
1945). A noteworthy contribution to juvenile Jewish literature is
made by Deborah Pessin. In
The Aleph-Beth story book
, illustrated
by Howard Simon (Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society
of America, 1946), she created a magic world and peopled it with
fascinating creatures — personified letters of the Hebrew alphabet
— who introduce themselves to Adam and go adventuring in the
days of the'early Hebrews. She has breathed life into the Hebrew
alphabet and had made the letters meaningful and full of color.
Hardly a year passes without the appearance of fictional writing
dealing with biblical episodes and personalities. While this year
was no exception to this rule the number of such publications is