Commentary Magazine


Two Worlds

To the Editor:

Robert Alter, in his perceptive “Modernism, the Germans & the Jews” [March] . . . makes some important distinctions among the three categories mentioned in his title. There is, perhaps, one more that could be tried—namely, a category of creativeness (and fate). . . .

I refer to those German Jewish individuals who with a measure of inner certainty, considerable strength, and much balance, and not without the necessary shot of modernism, seemed to have lived in both worlds (i.e., in all three) while consciously considering and stating the issues involved.

A tentative list would include Gabriel Riesser, vice president of the Frankfurt Parliament, 1848, as a writer and thinker; Berthold Auerbach, the author of the single most popular German short story (“Barfüssele”) and publicist of Jewish problems; and the sensitive Moritz Heimann, poet and editor, for whom the magnetism of two cultural worlds was as natural a phenomenon as the motion of planets obeying two centers of gravity (the image is his).

These figures are not without recognition in both worlds—and they need fresh study and evaluation. Even Martin Buber may partially belong here; his solemn German rendering of the Hebrew Bible and the hasidic tales is resonant only in one linguistic medium, and unthinkable without Stefan George.

Henry A. Fischel
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

About the Author




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.