Page 89 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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77
M INK IN ----ALEXANDER MARX AT SEVENTY
the world. The token library of 5,000 volumes has grown under
his wise and astute management into a hoarded wealth of 150,000
printed books and 8,000 manuscripts, covering the entire literary
and spiritual activity of the Jews from the most ancient times to
the present day and in as many languages as the lands of the
Jewish dispersion. Thus, there is no longer any need for the
student or scholar to wander from library to library in search of
source material on any particular subject but, without stirring
from the library, Dr. Marx has made it possible for him to be
within easy reach of every period of Jewish history — from
biblical times to modern Zionism, from ancient Babylonia to the
American scene, from Apion’s attack upon the Jews in the first
century through all the vicious attacks and persecutions of the
ages, down to Hitler’s
Mein Kampf.
The acquisition of the rarest treasure-trove of books and manu-
scripts in existence is not Prof. Marx’ sole title to fame and recog-
nition. Not infrequently good fortune plays into his hands and
bestows upon him the role of restorer of pages, and even fragments
of pages, after long separation, to the books or manuscripts to
which they originally belonged. The Jewish book, like the Jewish
people, was always a wanderer. The tragic circumstances of their
history compelled both to be on the march. Parts of books and
parchments had often become separated by very great distances.
To reunite such stray leaves and thereby complete a precious rare
volume requires extraordinary ingenuity, skill and imagination,
as well as expert knowledge of hand-writings of every description.
Such miracles of books reborn are almost daily occurrances in Dr.
Marx’ office, and they constitute the most rewarding and fasci-
nating part of his work.
The story of Dr. Marx’ rise to fame and recognition is quite
unlike that of most other Jewish scholars. In external circum-
stances, the epic of his life is a far cry from Bialik’s
Ha-Matmid
. . . . Years of hunger, years of sleeplessness,
. . . . Years of wasting flesh and failing cheeks.
Quite the contrary. He never knew struggle, he never knew defeat,
nor the bitterness that goes with years of obscurity and loneliness.
His career has not been a mountain ascent amid clouds of mist,
crowned only by a few sunny hours at the top. Unlike many of
his scholarly colleagues, he is fortunate in being able to look back
on a youth that was gay and happy, full of merriment and laughter.
For his parents were wealthy and they denied him nothing and,
had he chosen, he might have followed his father’s career as
a banker.