Friday, October 20, 2006

Nice things said about Jews, pt 1

[Jewish poetry] stands completely above all the rest; it is as far beyond the next best as German music is beyond French music, or French painting beyond English painting, or the English drama beyond Italian drama. There are single chapters in the Old Testament that are worth all the poetry ever written in the New World and nine-tenths of that written in the Old. [...]

A race of lawgivers? Bosh! Leviticus is as archaic as the Code of Manu, and the Decalogue is a fossil. A race of seers? Bosh again! The God they saw survives only as a bogey-man, a theory, an uneasy and vexatious ghost. A race of traders and sharpers? Bosh a third time! The Jews are as poor as the Spaniards. But a race of poets, my lords, a race of poets! It is a vision of beauty that has ever haunted them. And it has been their destiny to transmit that vision, enfeebled, perhaps, but still distinct, to other and lesser peoples, that life might be made softer for the sons of men, and the goodness of the Lord God--whoever He may be--might not be forgotten.
-- H. L. Mencken, Damn! A Book of Calumny, 1918

3 comments:

  1. I love the works of H. L. Mencken - thanks for posting this!

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  2. Interesting, as my recollection of Menken, rightly or wrongly, was that he was not particularly fond of Jews.

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  3. Mencken wasn't particularly fond of anyone, except Germans. That's one reason he was tardy in absorbing the unique evil of Hitler, later on.

    But he did have a strong sense of justice. For example, he once put his newspaper column to publicizing the case of a black man who was denied admission to law school for his color (no link, sorry).

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