Page 107 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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EDMOND FLEG
(On the occasion of his 75th Birthday)
By
M a u r i c e S c h n e p s
T 7 0 R more than forty-five years Edmond Fleg has done well and
-L valiantly in the Hebraic spirit. Throughout the epic,
Ecoute
Israel
(Hear O Israel), can be heard the cry: Touch the history
of Israel and you touch the history of mankind. I t is this pre-
occupation with man’s destiny, the moral pattern of that destiny
illuminated always against the background of Judaism’s teachings,
which gives to M. Fleg’s art its unique place. In an age where
sensitive men are given to doubt and hesitation, M. Fleg has dared
to be positive, insisting upon the dynamic nature of the Torah.
Into a language made famous by many skeptical spirits, the
fires of the prophets have been rekindled, the legends of the Bible
and the Talmud wrought anew, with an intimacy of expression
by a poet who loves the history, the tradition and the strivings of
his people.
To these strivings M. Fleg has brought his many talents as
poet, dramatist, linguist, anthologist, librettist, novelist and
scholar.
I t was no accident that the great French poet Charles Peguy
first encouraged and published the initial volume of the
Ecoute
Israel
in his now famous
Cahiers Quinzaine
series. Edmond Fleg,
like Peguy, combines a high moral sense with a resplendent art-
istry, deep religious roots and a free, independent spirit. I t is this
combination of independence and deep Hebraism that led Edmond
Fleg to produce his
Jesus
,
raconte par le Ju if errant
(Jesus: Told
by the Wandering Jew) his most beautiful prose work.
Solemn as these preoccupations are, M. Fleg has always insisted
that a characteristic of the Jew is his sense of humor; and among
M. Fleg’s works is to be found a translation of Sholem Aleichem’s
Tevye der Milchiger
, and his own mischievous play
Les Dieudieux.
In this latter play the poet vents his satirical humor against an
age grown preponderantly mechanical and destructive. The
artist, immersed in mysticism, insisting upon the moral pattern
of history, must, perforce, find himself at variance with his age.
Having experienced the horrors of war in the trenches of the
first World War (and the nightmare of the second World War as
a prominent Jew hunted by the Nazis), M. Fleg gave expression
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