361 CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnBellow, Bernard Malamud, and PhilipnRoth (a triumvirate once dubbed then”Hart, Schaffner and Marx of JewishnLetters” by Bellow); Gertrude Stein,nSusan Sontag, Chaim Potok, S.J. Perelman,nand so on, until such half-Jewsnas Dorothy Parker and J.D. Salinger arenreached. Whitfield seems amused thatnan American laureate in literature,nIsaac Bashevis Singer, should have tonhave his work translated info English.nRobert Lowell once remarked thatn”there wouldn’t be any active Americannculture now without the Jewish element,”nand Whitfield comes closenenough to saying the same thing tonannoy some Gentile readers. But innsurveying Jewish writers, he does havensufficient sense of perspective to admitn”no Faulkner has emerged among themnas preeminent, as authoritative enoughnto generate the anxiety of influence.”nAlthough Whitfield’s effort to reexaminenthe Jewish conscience sufiEersnfrom a tone that is too often that of thensympathetic insider, he does at timesntake his brethren to task.nTo be a Jew in Americangenerally has not beenndifficult. . . . And to have beennborn in America, especiallynsince midcentury, has meant ancertain immunity . . . from thensadness and unrewarded toilnthat, in so many places andncenturies, have seemed naturalnto life. The futurenhistorian . . . might be almostnforgiven for hyperbolicallynconcluding that, for many, painnwas tennis elbow . . . [and]ninjustice was going off toncollege and not getting into anJewish fraternity or sorority.n”Out of the Closet and Into thenWoods”nIn some parts of the country, “birdwatcher”nwas one of those euphemismsnyou use when the preaclier comes tondinner—like hairdresser or ambidextrous.nNature, as they say, imitates art:nAccording to Mother Jones, the SannFrancisco Bay Chapter of the SierranClub wants to form a group callednGay/Lesbian Sierrans. The G/LS groupnsponsors several wilderness trips eachnmonth and provides members withnforest-green T-shirts emblazoned withnthe motto “GO WILD.” Steven Krefting,na leader of the new group, explainsnLIBBBAL ARTSnClearly, Whitfield has little patiencenwith middle-class Jews who think theynlead the rough life in contemporarynAmerica.nWhitfield contemplates at length thentraditional devotion of Jews to liberalncauses and leftist politics. He notes, forninstance, that Jewish fervor for the NewnDeal was such that Jonah J. Goldstein,na Jewish Republican judge, once remarked,n”The Jews have three veltenn[worlds], di velt [this world], yene veltn[the next], and Roosevelt.” Incredibly,nbefore the ACLU took up the cudgelsnfor the right of Nazis to march throughndowntown Skokie, Jews comprisednnearly half of the ACLU’s membership.nThese facts leave Whitfield puzzled.nThe commitment of Jews to the left—npossibly a response to past Europeanninjustices—is in present-day Americannot only an enigma, but, as Whitfieldnsays, “perhaps even an insult to commonnsense.” Yet at other times Whitfieldnwrites approvingly of what hasnbeen called the Jews’ “bourgeois humanism”;n”No other phrase,” we arentold, “more aptly describes the Jewishnstruggle to imagine a society in whichnthe right to be equal is secured, withoutnthreatening the freedom to be difiFerent.”nSimilarly, Whitfield worries thatnthe “relative absence … of anti-nSemitism, combined with secure locationnabove the poverty level for thenmajority of Jews, enlarges the dangernthat an individualist ethos . . . maynoutstrip awareness of the plight of others.”nSome readers may wonder why annindividualist ethos is necessarily incompatiblenwith a concern for others.nDisraeli believed Jews are conservativesnat heart but for now at least Whitfieldnis correct in observing that mostnJews “have found incomprehensiblenthat G/LS outings provide “a good wa)’nto meet people in a context other thann. , . bars.” The best news of the SierranClub in a long time is that they have sonfar refused to give recognition to G/LS.nThe “bird-watchers” remain hopeful.n”All we want to do,” says one member,n”is get gay people back in touch withnnature.” They could start by goingnstraight. ccnnnLord Melbourne’s definition of the entirenpurpose of government: the preventionnof crime and the preservation ofncontracts.” Elsewhere Whitfield observesnthat “conservative moralism isn. . . alien to most Jews.” He suspectsnthis is because “poverty and lifelongncelibacy were never Jewish ideals.” Innany event, freedom from the Gentile’sngentility has spawned an unrivalednnumber of Jewish comedians: althoughnJews comprise just 3 percent of thenpopulation, they account for more thann80 percent of our nation’s funnymen.nNonetheless, “almost all” are minor asncomedians go, since their humor isn”about as adult as the short-sheetingnthat is the soul of wit in summerncamps.” ccnScoff Edwin Ewing writes fromnChicago.nWorldly Wise &nHeavenly Foolishnby Robert C. SteensmanShusaku Endo: Wonderful Fool;nTranslated by Francis Mathy; Harpern& Row; New York.nMax Fiisch: Bluebeard: A Tale; Translatednby Geoffitey Skelton; HarcourtnBrace Jovanovich; San Diego.nRomain Gary: King Solomon; Translatednby Barbara Wright; Harper &nRow; New York.nThe most widely known of these threennovelists is Romain Gary, who committednsuicide in 1980 at the age of 66,nperhaps as a result of his disastrousnmarriage to the American actress andnradical, Jean Seaberg, who had takennher own life a year earlier. A Lithuaniannemigrant to France, where he playedna heroic role in the French air force andnthe RAF during Wodd War II, Garynpublished several dozen books betweenn1944 and 1980. Several of them—AnEuropean Education (1945), The Rootsnof Heaven (1956), Lady L. (1959), andnWhite Dog (1970)—placed him amongnthe more popular writers in Europe,nalthough critics were never sure whethernto label him a romantic, a cynic, ansentimentalist, or a satirist. In WhitenDog, for example, he could paintna rather bitter picture of Americannlife while at the same time savagelynsatirizing the Hollywood radicalismnthrough which art pimps for politicalnpropaganda.n