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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution

Senn, Alfred Erich
Book reviews: Ehrenburg in Stalin's Russia,   pp. 330-332 PDF (2.1 MB)

Page 330

330      authority lacking in the early ones,
where he has resorted to lifting without
acknowledgement whole passages from
Sterling Brown's essay, "The Negro in the
American Theatre," which appears in
the Oxford Companion to the Theatre.
One anecdote neatly expresses the
theme of Mr. Mitchell's study. During
the 1920's, Jules B'edsoe was
performing the title role of
The Emperor Jones in a Harlem theatre.
The audience resented the play's
atavistic implications, and the spectacle
of Jones wandering lost in the jungle.
A shout went up from the house:
"Man, you come on outa that jungle!
This is Harlem!"
That shout echoes today in the
Negro's militant demand for his right
to be seen in the American theatre as he
truly is. When he wins -and the
prospects now are bright that he will -
both he and our theatre will gain a
new dignity.
by Alfred Erich Senn
llya Ehrenburg, Post-War Years: 1945-
1954. Cleveland: World Publishing
Company, 1967. $6.50.
This, the sixth and last part of
Ehrenburg's memoirs, carries his
reminiscences up to the spring of 1954,
when he published his novel The Thaw.
Although the author insisted that
as he came closer to the present, he
"should lift the curtain of the
confessional less and less frequently,"
this is undoubtedly the most interesting
part of the memoirs. (On the earlier
volumes, see ARTS IN SOCIETY, Vol. 3,
No. 2, 279-281, and No. 4, 614-615.)
Ehrenburg here maintained the style
of the earlier parts, eschewing a
strictly chronological approach in favor
of presenting a series of vignettes
depicting individuals or events. What
is unique in this volume is his
readiness at last to discuss the problems
of intellectuals in Stalinist Russia.
Still unconvincing, however, are his
disingenuous avowals that at the
time he had understood little of the
nature of Stalin's rule-this in contrast
to his easy generalizations about the
politics of other countries.
Throughout the work, Ehrenburg
reasserted his belief in the Soviet system;
he limited some of his comments
because "the Soviet people, whose
concepts I cherish, has enemies in
plenty . . . the battle is still being
waged (p. 108)." He cited some of the
most ridiculous anti-Soviet statements

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