Litvinoff, Emanuel

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LITVINOFF, EMANUEL (1915– ) English poet. A Londoner by birth and upbringing, Litvinoff served in the army during World War ii. Apart from his journalism (as editor of the periodical Jews in Eastern Europe), Litvinoff wrote poems, some of which were collected in two volumes, The Untried Soldier (1942) and A Crown for Cain (1948), and a novel, The Lost Europeans (1959). His work was largely concerned with the problems of the Diaspora Jew, mostly because he was influenced by the vigorous Jewish culture of London's East End and the antisemitism of the British Fascists in the thirties, and was deeply affected by the Holocaust and its aftermath. Litvinoff's most significant poem is, perhaps, "To T.S. Eliot," a protest against Eliot's occasionally sneering attitude toward Jews and a passionate self-identification of himself with the dead of Treblinka. In The Lost Europeans, Litvinoff describes the experience of a Jew in postwar Berlin, and in his second novel, The Man Next Door (1968), the workings of an antisemite's mind. In the late 1960s he resigned his position on the Guardian newspaper in protest at its anti-Israel stance. His later books include an autobiographical work, Journey Through a Small Planet: Jewish Childhood in East London (1997), and works of fiction. His brother, barnet (1917–1996), journalist and Zionist worker, wrote a biography of David Ben-Gurion, Ben Gurion of Israel (1954); Road to Jerusalem (1965), on the development of the Zionist movement; A Peculiar People (1969), about contemporary Jewish communities; The Burning Bush: Antisemitism and World History (1988); and other works.

[Jon Silkin]