Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 26: No Asch in Yehoshua

Tuesday, October 1st 1958, 8.25 p.m.

The first day of Edith’s “retirement”. I called for her at her office yesterday. her colleagues had presented her with layette-stuff; very moving, really. We celebrated in a mild way by dining at the Strand palace. E. naturally revels in her new-found leisure, though it remains to be seen whether she will revel quite so much as time advances and she finds herself “confined to barracks” and having to work to a tight budget. The change has been a relief to me, too. To-night I was able to listen to a talk on the wireless, make this entry and I stand a fair chance of being able to listen-in for an additional hour and have a bath. Under the old dispensation I would have had to go to the launderette (which to-day Edith was able to do in the morning), do all the washing-up (to enable Edith to get on with the ironing, which she will now be able to do in daylight hours) and so on.

I started taking my French class at the Clapton & Kingsland Evening Institute the Monday before last. Thirty-one students! Which means the class should last throughout the session. Only 30/- a night; probably leaves me with about 17/6 after deducting tax, fares, teas; but I have nothing more lucrative with which to occupy the time.

I “preached” at the kids’ services on the Yomim Nowroim [“The High Holidays”] at Highgate Shool. Difficult to know what to say to them. They were an awkward age group; the oldest – one or two only – about 13; too young to give ’em much meat. Must try to work up a collection of “stories.” The young chap who “takes” the service ( for a fee, I have reason to believe – why not, I take a fee for my Sunday-school teaching) was rather weak, unfortunately; couldn’t sing, or even read Hebrew at all decently (he read, or tried to read, Israeli, which would have been all right if he could have done it).

My translation from the German of a – rather drippy – article by Max Brod and also, from the Hebrew, of a quite intelligent article by Yehoshua Bar-Yossef appeared in the last issue of The Jewish Quarterly I was given full translator’s credits. Unfortunately my translation of the latter article, which was largely a complaint about the poor quality of Hebrew-English translating, was rushed (I did it all – about 1500 words English text – on the Friday preceding the Saturday on which we left for Crikvenica) and could have been better. I had no time even to type my rough draft; anyway the printed text has elementary grammatical errors like: “translators of sufficient high standards” which, whether originally my fault or not, will not redound to my credit. I’d never heard of Yehoshua Bar-Yossef before. Apparently he’s a well-known Israeli author, & writes in Yiddish, too. He complains Hebrew has no translator, as Sholem Asch had, of the calibre of Maurice Samuel. The answer’s obvious enough. Let’s have a Hebrew Asch, and I won’t let him down!

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