Page:Asch-God of vengeance.djvu/13

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Introduction

SHOLOM ASH is one of the chief authors in contemporary Yiddish letters,—a literature at present enjoying a renaissance that attests the remarkable vitality of a people long oppressed in intellectual no less than in economic domains,—a literature that has much to teach America in the way of fearlessness before the facts of life, frankness in their interpretation and persistent idealism in face of the most degrading and debasing environment. Indeed, the conjunction of squalid surroundings, sordid occupation and idealistic yearning to be met so frequently in Jewish writers arises most naturally from the peculiar conditions of much of the life in ghettos the world over.

It is interesting to consider Ash's "The God of Vengeance" in connection with a play like "Mrs. Warren's Profession." To be sure, there is no technical resemblance between the two dramas; nor, despite an external similarity in backgrounds, is there any real identity of purpose. Shaw's play is essentially sociological, and is a drama of disillusionment. Ash's piece glows with poetic realism and recounts an individual tragedy not without symbolic power. Yet the essentially (though not conventionally) moral earnestness of both Shaw and Ash brings the circles of their themes in a sense tangent to each other.

Mrs. Warren cherishes no delusions about her

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