Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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G A L P E R T ---- MODERN H E B R EW L I T ERATURE
71
SAUL TCHERNICHOVSKY
Saul Tchernichovsky, an even more universal poet than Bialik,
is one of the titans of modern Hebrew literature. A physician and
philologist, he wrote poetry of extraordinary beauty, in a great
variety of metrical forms. Unfortunately, little of his work has
as yet been translated into English. Available, however, is a
monograph entitled
Tchernichovsky and His Poetry
, by L. V.
Snowman (London, Hasefer Agency for Literature, 1929) which
includes a few of his poems. In view of the fact that Tchernichovsky
is a poet of the first magnitude, it is indeed lamentable that the
Snowman opus is the only work devoted entirely to this great
Hebrew creator, in English.
Another interesting literary figure is Elisheva, a Russian Ortho-
dox Hebrew poet, who passed away this year in Israel. Some of her
poems and stories have been translated by S. H. Lubner and
L. V. Snowman,
Elisheva
,
Stories and Poems
(London, M. L.
Cailingold, 1933).
Of all the scores of modern Hebrew poets, the above mentioned
are unfortunately the only ones even a portion of whose works
are available in English publication, aside, of course, from isolated
verse translations which have sporadically appeared in various
periodicals.
Two essayists, whose teaching and philosophy are accessible
to the English reader, now merit our consideration. The first is
Ahad Ha’am, philosopher and prophet of Zionism, whose lucid
and logical wisdom has molded recent Jewish thought more than
that of any other man, ever since the publication of his first
article in Odessa in 1889. As a result of his brilliant thinking, a
great Jewish awakening and a great Hebrew literature arose, for
he was not only “ the father of spiritual Zionism,” but also the
first conscious champion of Jewish survival. His style of writing
shed the obscurity and circumlocutions of his predecessors, and
with purity and artistry he transformed the prose of criticism into
luminescent art.
Thanks to Sir Leon Simon’s life-long labors, the wisdom of
Ahad Ha’am is available to the English reader. Three separate
editions of his essays, all translated by Sir Leon Simon, have
appeared during the last forty years:
Selected Essays
, published
by The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia, in
1919;
Ten Essays on Zionism and Judaism
, printed in London in
1922; and
Essays
,
Letters
,
Memoirs of Ahad Ha'am
(Oxford, East
and West Library, 1947). The latter volume contains, in addition
to Ahad Ha’am’s most characteristic essays, such as “Jewish and
Christian Ethics,” “ Imitation and Assimilation,” and “Moses,”