Part 68: Sunday 20th November 1960, 6pm

Dedication of stained-glass windows at New Synagogue this morning 12.30. Mum had a window put in in memory of my father זצ״ל. [Israel Witriol – who died when dad was twelve] Service very well done, with sherry and refreshments afterwards. Read Roots; entertaining, which in my terminology is complimentary. The theme is of Norfolk farm workers. The heroine is awakened by her Jew-boy lover in London. She tries to communicate to her family the zest which he has communicated to her. Her family is keyed up to meet him; he fails to turn up, but she feels it has been worth it, he has enabled her to see what life could really be. It is amazing that an East-End Jewish boy could have caught so well the Norfolk country milieu.

The children flourishing, Mum too. Keep fingers crossed.

Also read The Crossing Point by Gerda Charles. Again, a thoroughly entertaining Anglo-Jewish novel.


Sentimental books

My father was a voracious reader throughout his life. He amassed a large and eclectic library.  He was not, though, a collector for the sake of collecting. Books were for reading for pleasure, for knowledge; or for their practical use in translating, writing articles, teaching and so on. Since my parents died, nearly all of these books have been disposed of. Here I highlight a few that have a special point of interest.
Inscribed in a rear endpaper, this is the signature, presumably, of Israel Witriol, my father’s father. I cannot decipher the word on the second line, but his wife was Yetta Balin and his sister married Frank Wagreich.

Inscription by Israel Witriol

This is the frontispiece of the book itself

Gothic Goethe

Apart from a letter to Yetta, this is the only extant example of his handwriting – he died at 48 when my dad was 12.

My father added this sentimental note to a book

The Armenian Crisis in Turkey

I wonder why this, dafke, was one of the handful of books they had? Chapter VIII is even more apposite today – see also this piece

A Politico-Religious System

This is the book’s title page – I think it must be a scarce item now. The Armenian Crisis in Turkey

From an early age, dad excelled at English as this bookplate testifiesSchool prize

As for the book itself, in his unpublished ‘Autobiography of a Failure’  he said

 [I]…could never get into it. May have had something to do with the small print.Lorna Doone

Maggs is one of London’s most venerable, yet relatively unstuffy, antiquarian booksellers. Their website, like their Berkeley Square shop, is well worth visiting. In this catalogue

Maggs Bros catalogue

I happened to see one of my dad’s two major translated works!Yehudi Menuhin catalogue