NIEL by Martin Buber


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This early work of the celebrated Jewish theologian, for all its concern with philosophic problems- such things as reality, polarity, unity- does not speak in the language of the philosopher as much as that of the poet, or better yet the mystic. Thus it is not surprising Buber many times refused its English translation, fearing that anything written at 35 or so would misrepresent his maturer formulations. But he needn't have worried; Daniel, though obviously transitional, and though at times so misty as to almost evaporate (reminiscent of, of all people, Krishnamurti), is in its basic thought and stylization an extraordinarily arresting document. It is also eminently rewarding biographically, for here one discerns not only the emergent principles of existens-philosophic and the dialogic beginnings of I and Thou (which appeared 10 years later), but also the aesthetic sensibility of his youth, of Hofmannsthal, Nietzsche and Rilke, of Boehme, and Eckhart, and more importantly, his rediscovery of the Hasidic texts and the intense counteraction between man, nature and God. Buber's ideas of duality and of emotional and environmental orientation frequently lapse here into the subject- object dichotomy which he subsequently discarded. He offers a beautiful phrase characterizing the kingdom of God: ""the kingdom of holy insecurity."" The translator, besides his other service, presents a thorough, if slightly diffuse, introduction.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1964
Publisher:  olt, Rinehart & Winston