The Jews, are they human?

London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, [1939]

8vo, pp. 111, [1]; some scattered pale foxing, else very good; publisher’s pink-red cloth, pink dustjacket, printed in black, spine faded; booklabel of the BBC broadcaster and later friend of Lewis D. G. Bridson, with marginal pencil marks in his hand and a few page references at the end.


US $573€528

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First edition, Lewis’s first avowedly antifascist text, an argument against antisemitism written after the first draft of The Hitler Cult but published nine months earlier. Lewis had visited Germany, and the Warsaw Ghetto, in 1938, and had been left disturbed. ‘Perhaps because he had come to realise just how wrong he had been in his original belief that Hitler himself was not anti-Semitic, Lewis felt himself impelled to speak up on behalf of the Jews as they were becoming increasingly known to the British … too much had been written about the Jews on the grounds of common humanity, and far too little on the grounds of common sense. His appeal is, therefore, to the intelligence rather than to humanitarian feeling, though “it is extremely unintelligent, it is as well to remember, not to be humane”’ (Bridson, The Filibuster).

‘We must give all people of Jewish race a new deal among us. Let us for Heaven’s sake make an end of this silly nightmare once and for all, and turn our backs on this dark chapter of our history.’

The apparently combative title was in fact a reference to G. J. Renier’s The English: are they human (1931), and the work was well-received by the Jewish Chronicle among others, though it remains rife with stereotyping.

Pound & Grover A28a; Morrow & Lafourcade A28

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