The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, Volume 10: 1973-2005
Yale University Press
Edited by Deborah Dash Moore and Nurith Gertz, Volume 10 of this invaluable guide to Jewish culture and civilization deals with the years 1973-2005. In his introduction to the volume, the overall editor of the project, James E. Young, states that the central objective of the reference work is to create a “single, usable collection that the current generation of scholars agrees best represents Jewish culture and civilization in their historical and global entirety.” The editors also sought to establish a pluralistic definition of Jewish culture and civilization as well as to provide a working anthological legacy, in which future generations of Jews will come to understand the past and present contributions of the Jewish people. Admittedly an ambitious task, the editors have assembled brief biographies of famous and not so famous personalities in such fields as literature (including children’s and young adult), poetry, drama, both popular and intellectual culture, as well as a section on spiritual culture, which contains subsections of religious commentary and liturgy, among its many topics.
In chronological order, each entry is represented by brief biographical information about the author, and an excerpt from his/her work written during that year. Examples for the year 1973 include Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift and Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying. The little known Italian novelist and short story writer Elsa Morante’s History: A Novel is listed with Canadian writer Adele Wiseman’s novel Crackpot. Both novels were written in 1974. The entries for 1975 include Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow; the Russian writer and critic Yury Karabchievskii’s The Life of Alexander Zilber, andPrimo Levi’s The Periodic Table. The same format is used throughout the reference volume, which also includes photos and an extensive bibliography.
This is a valuable anthology of Jewish culture and civilization. It should find its place in research institutions as well as in the Judaica sections of university and public libraries.