THE FANATIC by Meyer Levin


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Maury Finkelstein, ex-rabbinical student, translates the book of the late Leo Kahn. Kahn's work is said to be a moving and mystic evocation of the Jewish resistance in WWII. Maury's idealism is fired by the book. He is not impelled by self-interest in searching out a producer for the play he has adopted from the book. He wants this for the world, for Israel, and for Jews everywhere. He is made a fanatic by the people with whom he must deal who are motivated by profit. For various private considerations, they twist his scenario and soften its impact; worse, they have cheated Maury of his rights to the play and changed its intent. The most embittering of Maury's problems were those Jews, powerful in the theater, who were more concerned with Gentile audience appeal than their heritage. Two inescapable things about fanatics are their ability to bore and irritate. To this extent, Levin has created an authentic figure in Maury whose naivete and reliance on rabbinical argument, long after the necessity for a good lawyer has become apparent, is extended and distressing. This is a long book made no easier by the clumsy narrative device -- it is told with the disembodied and dispassionate voice of the dead author Kahn, in whose literary genius it is hard to believe. This urges self-examination by American Jews -- a smaller, but active, portion of Levin's large general readership.

Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 1963
Publisher: Simon & Schuster