Among the Literati

Walter Disney, Jewish cartoonist and creator of the internationally famous "Mickey Mouse" was remotely responsible for a mixup in the Gene Fowler home that nearly caused an upset in New York’s educational system. It seems that one of the younger Fowlers who had been presented with a copy of the latest Mickey Mouse book by his adoring Pappy, marched into his class room and was soon absorbed in the tale. The teacher surprised to find young Fowler so quiet investigated. He seized the book and refused to give it up. Father Fowler’s fighting blood was roused. He wrote to the teacher demanding the return of the book. The teacher reported the incident to the principal who supported the subordinate. Papa Fowler, undaunted, consulted his lawyers who sued on a writ of something or other. P.S.—The book was returned.

Fanny Hurst is working on a new novel but then that is hardly news as Miss Hurst is always working on a new novel. Some years ago when Miss Hurst’s books were selling in huge quantities she decided to leave her publishers, Harper’s, because she felt that her work was not receiving its critical due. She went over to Knopf where she received the "critical due" but sales were not so hot. She is again being published by Harper’s. Although the inside of her New York apartment resembles a church Miss Hurst, as you probably have guessed, is a Jewish lady . . . .

Melvin Levy whose mustache cries for wax, is writing a novel, the locale being his native city of Seattle. . . .

No, George Ross, editor of the New Yorker, is not a Jew; he is an Irishman. The story that David Sarnoff, president of R.C.A., is well connected in radical circles probably arose because so many of Sarnoff’s friends are Russian born and are interested in social affairs. They are about as radical as Walter Lippman. ###peror wa#tz,#ales from the Vienna Woods, and Fledermaus overture will be heard.

On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman with their assisting dancers will interpret the ballet, "The Shakers," based on the theme, "God hath revealed that eternal life shall be the reward of those who are shaken free of sin." The work will be interpreted to the accompaniment of drums, accordions and a chorus of female voices trained by Hall Johnson.

The orchestral section of the program Tuesday will include the first performance anywhere of Suite in F by the French modernist, Albert Roussel; Piccoli Soldati by Pick-Mangiagalli, Satie’s Gymnopedie and Ravel’s Le Valse. ###knows what are the great and the small occasions which will bring him alive. He conveys to us the senses in which the Burrells of the West also "belong" in the record of deep America, without making this particular Burrell a particularly noble character. We see Aaron Burrell establishing life-long contacts with pioneers bearing the names of Johnson and Talafierro and dividing with them, not on issues of race or religion, but on such pioneer issues as shall Tejos City invite the railroad—for a consideration—to make it a junction point? Of course there were business rivals who did not scruple to call Aaron "dirty Jew" and in one moment of anger even his best "friend" spat the word Jew at him, but in a life-time of store-building, such slights are absorbed as part of life, without weakening Americanism, or compelling the object of them to hug his Jewishness with compensatory intensity. He takes both rather for granted. He is, frankly, not in the line of the heroic or the prophet-like Jews—nor of the maladjusted.

There is a bad time, though, when the issue of race and religion threatens to split wide open the thin wedge of difference between the Jew and the Gentile; that is, when the daughter of the Talafierros and the John-sons is to marry the son of the Burrells. That is when the Gentiles say, in effect: So far, Jew, shalt thou go, but no further! But the intermarriage is represented as a greater triumph and a greater fulfillment for the Gentile girl than for the Jewish son and, whether strangely or not, the union turns out so happy a one that as an inter-union, it is magnificent. And I think the secret of the success of this marriage is that Aaron’s son, Nate, the crown prince of the big store who makes it indeed into a financial kingdom, is man and master in his home and even more deeply integrated with American values than his father could ever hope to be. Call him a Babbitt, but he is an intelligent and forceful Babbitt. He believes in Management and Service and Profits and Success and the symbols of Success. And it his son, more American than any of the Jews in the book, who rebels against the Babbittry of the son of Aaron, but the rebellion has no tragic turn.

I am certain, though, that if Ludwig Lewisohn ever came to these American Jews of whom Mr. Harrison writes they would not know what he was complaining about—no-how.

OUR SPANISH-JEWISH PIONEERS

Virginia Hersch’s novel, "Storm Beach," which tells the story of a proud Spanish-Jewish family which settles in Charleston, is rather like an old Moorish mosaic. It is to {SPAN}###{/SPAN} remarked that while some of the tiles still retain their brilliant color and intricate pattern, others have been obliterated by the thick Spanish dust of ages. So it is with Mrs. Hersch’s novel.

Sarah Carvalho, proud, imbued with a strong sense of Hebraic mysticism, tenacious in her grip on the lives of her sons and daughter, is vitally portrayed. Whether or not the author desired that Sarah should completely dominate the novel as she does her family is not clear. Neither her sons nor her daughter, Judith, nor the various members of her clan assume any reality in the action of the story. We are told about them but they as individuals never seem to take on any semblance of life. Mrs. Hersch’s insight may be dimmed because she is trying to re-create out of history a pattern of human behavior and reaction. She tells the story of these individuals without creating the necessary sympathy between the reader and the characters.

Sarah Carvalho and her family, living in Charleston as Jews with the traditional problems of intermarriage and assimilation in a Southern Gentire environment, are not treated in such a way as to make the reader feel their problems deeply. The problem of intermarriage is represented in the alliance between the Gentile Annabelle and the Carvalho cousin. Albert Jacobs, and in Judith’s love for Roger Lavenden. The situation does not take on any particular significance. That particular situation is common in practically all novels of Jewish life. Mrs. Hersch uses the age-old arguments—arguments one feels which have ceased to have any value, artistically.

As a historian, Mrs. Hersch is self-conscious. "Storm Beach" does not approach her novelized biography Hersch exhibited a skill in re-creating for the reader the Spanish background. However, in "Storm Beach." she does not give one any conception of the old Charleston.

Hailed by Ludwig Lewisohn as a first American-Jewish historical novel, "Storm Beach" leaves much to be desired. R. B. S.

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