THE LIBERATION OF THE JEW by Albert Memmi

THE LIBERATION OF THE JEW

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Memmi wittily describes Kafka as ""a man so overcome by being a Jew that he speaks of nothing else while never admitting it."" Combining the stance of the cafe intellectual, the scholar, and the impassioned pamphleteer, Memmi, too, speaks of nothing else, but he's infinitely more honest. Indeed, as the buffalo is drawn by a ring through his nose, so, alas, is the reader here dragged through a thousand and one arguments, piled on top of one another with an almost maddening inclusiveness, and all testifying to the plight--past, present, and to come--of the Jew in the Christian world. Assimilation, conversion, mixed marriage--these are seen as unworkable solutions, often awakening a Jewish solidarity where it had never been felt before. Jewish humor is gallows humor, an attempt to correct the sorrows of Jewish history. In politics, the Right wants to do away with the Jewish race in the name of Western tradition; the Left wants to sacrifice them for the good of the revolution. For twenty centuries there have been pogroms at the rate of one every decade, culminating in the unspeakable martyrdom at Auschwitz. This inventory of incalculable injustices must surely shame every non-Jew. And yet one has the inescapable feeling that Memmi somehow is more enthralled with the sheer display of his dialectical prowess, so much so that his catalogue of oppression seems peculiarly reminiscent of Simone de Beauvoir's militant lamentation, The Second Sex. As for the way out, this amounts to some hasty, heraldic passages about Israel, the ""national liberation of the Jew,"" and the eventual gathering together of the fold in one land.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1966
Publisher: Grossman