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HOME > Classical Novels > On the Eve of Redemption > THE MIGRATIONS OF JEWISH LITERATURE
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 Among all the literatures of the world the Jewish literature is the only one that did not develop in any one land and the destinies of which are not connected with any one country. It has neither a certain local odor nor a certain local color, and it has seldom been the product of local conditions. There are a good many scholars who go so far as to say that the Jews had litterateurs only and not a literature, because the conception of a national literature involves national territory, a national political organization, and national traditions. A people, these scholars say, may produce a great numbers of writers and poets and may still be said not to possess a national literature. scholars who argued to that effect may have been right. If we take into consideration the psychological continuity of Jewish literature ever since the Jews began their career as a wandering people, we are in doubting the wisdom of this conception.  
Although Jewish literature has undergone many changes (the change in language being only one prime fact) and although it has been as restless as the Jewish people, compelled to wander from one country to another, it has still succeeded in preserving certain prime qualities and characteristics which entitle it to bear the proud name of national literature. It is easy to recognize the age of a Jewish literary document, but it is not so easy to the place and locality where it was produced. The Hebrew-Italian school of the eighteenth century resembles in many respects the Hebrew-Spanish school of the Middle Ages, and the Russian-Hebrew school of the present time has much similarity not only to the various Hebrew schools of the twelfth and the eighteenth centuries but even to the Biblical period. It suffices only to mention the name of Bialik to show how near we are today to the spirit of the Biblical period.
This is true of Hebrew poetry but not of Hebrew prose. Here the results of are very noticeable. The Jewish literature of the Alexandrian period has hardly anything in common with Babylonian Jewish literature, and the literature created in the Provence is quite different in character from that created in Central Asia or in Africa. In other words, while the contemplative Jewish mind succeeds in preserving its chief original qualities, the Jewish mind was subject to certain degrees of assimilation. As long as the Hebrew language was the means of expression for the Jewish literary spirit the effect of migration from one country to another was to make Jewish literature more and more interesting. But it did not fill the literary mind with new contents. Sometimes the effect of the new surroundings was not felt at all. This is due to the fact that, with the Hebrew language as cultivated by the Jews, there goes a certain philosophy of life and of things. The fate of the Jews throughout the ages, more or less similar in every land, contributed also to the psychological continuity of the Hebrew literary mind. This expresses itself best in the Hebrew . When one reads Bialik's "Poems of Wrath," one thinks at once of Hebrew poems of a similar kind written hundreds of years ago. Hebrew prose on the other hand underwent slight changes during the Jewish .
Since the Jews have entered modern civilization and have adopted the language of the Gentiles as a medium of literary expression, the effects of migration on the Jewish literary mind have begun to make themselves felt in a rather unpleasant way. This unpleasantness consists not in the variety of languages in which modern Jewish literature is so rich, but in the variet............
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