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The Treasures of Howe and Greenberg

Roskies, David G.

In the first two decades of this century, when literary manifestos were very much in vogue, the burning issue was that of cultural renewal: Was it to come from within, by reappropriating the past, or from without, by celebrating the present and incorporating its chaotic norms? Neo-classicists and symbolists squared off against Futurists and Expressionists. The revival of folklore, myth and metaphysics was countered by the supremacy of the masses, the machine and the psyche. One rarely thinks of editors and translators, those workhorses of the literary establishment, venturing forth into such treacherous terrain, but as Dov Sadan was the first to note, the Jewish centers of Odessa and Warsaw with Bialik at the head of one and Frischman at the head of the other, were divided over this very issue, and much of their competing energies were channeled into the work of translation. Each was additionally in charge of the means of production—Bialik as editor-in-chief of the Dvir Publishing House and Frischman of Stiebel—so that policy was translated into the distribution of real books.

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Jewish Theological Seminary
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November 15, 2012