Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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23
BLOCH ---- THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
power i s—on the people’s side.” His argument is desperately
sincere, sometimes eloquent but hardly ever alive.
A curious story is
F l l be right home
,
Ma
by Henry Denker
(N. Y., Crowell, 1949). I t tells of Danny Callahan, an Irish boy
who beats up another boy who had called his mother a low name.
Danny had to beat him because he was afraid it was true. That
fear made the Irish boy a champion of the ring under the shrewd
management of Packy Cohen who was pulling the boys apart.
The novel has authentic stuff, raw, resinous and rich in the jargon
of the fight mob.
In
Cry tough!,
a novel by Irving Schulman (N. Y., Dial, 1949),
the hero is a youngster fresh out of reform school who comes home
fully resolved to lead a respectable life, tries out an honest job
and then slips into his old ways. Although at times awkward in
moving from one scene to another some of Mr. Schulman’s descrip-
tions are beautiful, such as the one in which the Friday night
meal, symbolic of Jewish family unity, is treated with so much
warmth and tenderness.
Many of the personalities and events connected with the rise
and early spread of Christianity figure often in historical novels.
Such novels not infrequently include Jewish characters and epi-
sodes familiar in Jewish experience. Such a novel is
The bigfisher-
man
by Lloyd C. Douglas (Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1949).
The hero of the novel is, of course, Simon Peter, one of the twelve
apostles. Like the author’s earlier work,
The robe
, it is thoroughly
christological. Another novel of a like nature is
Bold Galilean
by
Le Gette Blythe (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press,
1948). The story is woven around three Romans who, each in
his own way, come to respect and accept Jewish monotheism.
Ultimately they become followers of the teachings of Jesus of
Nazareth. There are several Roman and Jewish court scenes,
including the dance of Salome and the ghastly presentation of
John’s head.
A reinterpretation of the drama of the Jew Shylock and his
famous suit for “a pound of flesh,” so familiar from Shakespeare’׳s
Merchant of Venice
, is offered in
Jessica
,
my daughter
, by Ari
Ibn-Zahav, translated from the Hebrew by Julian Meltzer (N. Y.,
Crown, 1948). I t is a novel about Renaissance Venice, and, as its
title suggests, Shylock’s daughter. The portrayal of Shylock is
quite real in his hatred of bigotry, his uncompromising attitude in
search of justice, and his magnanimity in the relinquishment of
retribution. In retelling the Shylock story with its setting chiefly
in the money-lender’s house, Ibn-Zahav endeavored to modify
somewhat, and credibly, the character of Shylock, and to retell,
against the colorful background of festival and ghetto life, the