Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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17
BLOCH----THE YEAR’S BOOKSHELF
family to be loyal Jews, exemplary citizens and “good children,”
and to minister to the spiritual needs of the larger community in
which he lived. Altogether there is a constant emphasis on the
strong family ties, the warmth, understanding and loving-kindness
that characterize the average Jewish home in which the teachings
and practices of Judaism are observed.
H. W. Heinsheimer, in his
Menagerie in F Sharp
(N. Y., Double-
day, ’47) offers amusing memoirs of the editor of a music publish-
ing firm, who, besides knowing his music, knows the people who
make it. Amusing, too, is
Some days were happy
by Louis Sobol,
with a foreword by Gene Fowler (N. Y., Random, ’47). Though
autobiographical, it is written “not as a personal chronicle, but as
a reminiscence of small-town life in the early 1900’s.” It covers
the author’s boyhood and youth, through his first job and mar-
riage following World War I. Reminiscences of a childhood in a
cultured German-American family of the late nineteenth century
New York City is contained in
־Dear remembered world;
childhood
memories of an old New Yorker by Mrs. Meta Lilienthal (N. Y.,
Richard R. Smith,’47).
While
Two on a continent
by Lili Foldes (N. Y., Dutton, ’47)
is autobiographical in character, it is merely another story of the
experiences of a refugee musician in America.
Quite unusual is Carlo Levi’s
Christ stopped at Eboli
(N. Y.,
Farrar, Straus, ’47). It is a piece of distinguished writing which
baffled the critics; they did not agree as to whether it is a novel
or belongs to the category of non-fiction. Perhaps it has a little
of both. It is certainly autobiographical. I t is the story of Levi’s
stay in Gagliano, a community in a remote district in the south
of Italy to which he had been banished by the Fascist government
for his outspoken opposition to the regime. His medical degree
made him welcome in a poor community while his skill in painting,
to which he had early turned from medicine, made him see the
landscape and people of that lost region between Apulia and
Calabria with sharp and sympathetic eyes. His book presents a
vivid description of life in a primitive community in which there
was as much witchcraft as religion, no national patriotism, no
morals besides ancient habit and a rough sense of primitive justice.
Since life in Gagliano does not change, Carlo Levi’s book must
long continue to be read and valued as an account of human life,
lived in its dark essentials in a community which has survived
almost untouched from days so remote, that reading it is like liv-
ing again in an Italian world as it was when
Christ stopped at Eboli.
The literature on the life and work of Sigmund Freud continues
to grow. Friends and foes of his teachings are engaged in efforts
to explore the recesses of his thinking and to determine the validity