Dreamers of the Ghetto HTML version

from its establishment in the sixteenth century to its slow breaking-
up in our own day. Some have become historic in Jewry, others
have penetrated to the ken of the greater world and afforded
models to illustrious artists in letters, and but for the exigencies of
my theme and the faint hope of throwing some new light upon
them, I should not have ventured to treat them afresh; the rest are
personally known to me or are, like "Joseph the Dreamer," the
artistic typification of many souls through which the great Ghetto
dream has passed. Artistic truth is for me literally the highest truth:
art may seize the essence of persons and movements no less truly,
and certainly far more vitally, than a scientific generalization
unifies a chaos of phenomena. Time and Space are only the
conditions through which spiritual facts straggle. Hence I have
here and there permitted myself liberties with these categories.
Have I, for instance, misplaced the moment of Spinoza's obscure
love-episode—I have only followed his own principle, to see
things sub specie æternitatis, and even were his latest Dutch editor
correct in denying the episode altogether, I should still hold it true
as summarizing the emotions with which even the philosopher
must reckon. Of Heine I have attempted a sort of composite
conversation-photograph, blending, too, the real heroine of the
little episode with "La Mouche." His own words will be
recognized by all students of him—I can only hope the joins with
mine are not too obvious. My other sources, too, lie sometimes as
plainly on the surface, but I have often delved at less accessible
quarries. For instance, I owe the celestial vision of "The Master of
the Name" to a Hebrew original kindly shown me by my friend Dr.
S. Schechter, Reader in Talmudic at Cambridge, to whose
luminous essay on the Chassidim, in his Studies in Judaism, I have
a further indebtedness. My account of "Maimon the Fool" is based
on his own (not always reliable) autobiography, of which I have
extracted the dramatic essence, though in the supplementary part of
the story I have had to antedate slightly the publication of
Mendelssohn's "Jerusalem" and the fame of Kant. In fine, I have
never hesitated to take as an historian or to focus and interpret as