Page 50 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
38
is an able and prolific writer and is the author of fifteen novels,
six collections of short stories and fourteen juveniles. He has
won several literary prizes in France. His first novel to be pre-
sented to* American readers is
The transient hour
(N. Y., Wyn,
’48), a clever and entertaining story of life in Paris during the
German occupation. It is an ironic comedy of manners and
morals which, in spite of its surface air of worldly wisdom and
genial tolerance, is steeped in a philosophy of despair and pessim-
ism. I t is a story of Paris in the third year of the German Occu-
pation and a somber and frightening picture of a disintegrating
civilization but only in so far as German officers, persecution of
Jews, curfews, shortages and black markets are parts of its back-
ground. Among the numerous characters in the novel is Mme.
Lebron, a Jewish refugee from Poland who lives in constant terror
of the Gestapo and who is grateful for sympathy she receives from
whatever source. The novel is a more or less accurate description
of a world in which all moral norms appear to be dissolving and
in which the only compulsions are those of organized physical
power.
The Arab-Jewish conflict in sharp perceptive fiction is pre-
sented in
I never saw an Arab like him
by James A. Maxwell
(Boston, Houghton, ’48), a collection of stories dealing with the
wartime experiences of Mark Dickson, the author’s hero and
alter ego, with Americans, Arabs, Jews and other badgered resi-
dents of Tripoli. It reflects the complex polyglotry of the Near
East. One of the stories, “Strictly from Mississippi” , shows how
anti-Semitism forces a reaction from even the best adjusted,
most unself-conscious of Jews. Individuals striving to cope with
unfamiliar situations in unfamiliar surroundings appear in an-
other collection of short stories,
The wall of dust
by Hallam Tenny-
son [great-grandson of the poet] (N. Y., Viking, ’48). One of the
stories describes a somewhat confused attempt to set down the
emotions of an English Jew in post-war Palestine.
A well-written novel with intimate knowledge of all the con-
flicting forces which meet and boil so fiercely in the Middle East
is
Arabesque
by Geoffrey Household (Boston, Atlantic-Little
Brown, ’48). Though intended as a story of espionage, mystery
and violence, it is more interesting as an inside Palestine story in
which the author gives sincere and generous recognition to the
idealism and positive achievements of the Zionists without admir-
ing the fanaticism of the Irgun Zvai Leumi. The story of
Arabesque
is that of an involuntary expatriate Armande Herne who found
herself virtually a prisoner when, in 1941, the French Army of
the Orient sailed out of Beirut harbor. Unable to return home
to England she remained there under suspicion by the Vichy