October 3, 1950
Exhibit Howard Fast's Books in
Many Languages at Jeff School
By Michael Vary
Say, have you ever read "Obcam Tom Paine" or "Weg Zur Freiheit" or "Le Passion de Peter Altgeld"?
Maybe you'd know them better by their more familiar titles of "Citizen Tom Paine," "Freedom Road" and "The American" by Howard Fast. These books, and 49 others like them, are currently on view at the Jefferson School library. They are a fascinating testimonial to one of America's most widely read contemporary novelists.* * *
THE COLLECTION, which was given to the school by Howard Fast, includes 52 titles in Russian, Spanish, French, Bulgarian, German, Czech, Swedish, Danish, Portuguese, Polish, Hungarian, Hebrew and Italian. They include books published in the countries where those languages are spoken, in South America, in Switzerland and Austria, and British editions distributed in England, Ireland, Australia, Africa and many other parts of the world. The collection is by no means complete. None of the translations into any of the Asian languages are on exhibit, though it is known that Howard Fast is widely read in China and India.* * *
ONE OF THE MOST striking characteristics of many of these books is their inexpensive paperbound printing, designed for mass distribution. Some books were printed on cheap pulp when good paper was unavailable, such as the Bulgarian translation of Citizen Tom Paine, published in 1946 only a few short months after that country was liberated.
The popularity of these books is attested to by the fact that some of the titles on exhibit are shown in several different editions in the same language. Czechoslovak readers, for example, are able to read Freedom Road in three different editions, including a paper bound volume.* * *
INCLUDED in the collection is the Russian translation of a little-know work by Howard Fast called "Memories of Sidney."
Many of the covers reflect the artistic heritage of the country in which they appear. Thus an Italian edition of Freedom Road shows a beautiful color print on the cover. The Danish translation is profusely illustrated with pen and ink drawings, while the Swedish translations bear covers illustrated in the modern technique of poster design. The Czech and Polish editions are examples of superb typography and topical photographic illustrations. The Czech translation of "The American" features a jacket design of a huge flag pole flying the dollar bill with a small figure of a striker at its side.* * *
THE GERMAN edition of Freedom Road carries a jacket which bears Howard Fast's answer to the Un-American Committee witch-hunt. Each book has a special introduction, often written by a well-known literary figure, explaining the author's background, his other writings, and setting the scene for the readers in each country.
If you'd like to read Clarkton, My Glorious Brothers, The Last Frontier, Citizen Tom Paine, Freedom Road or the American in the above-mentioned languages, or if you'd just like to see how the world honors an author who is hounded and imprisoned in his own country because of his fight for peace, then get up to the Jefferson School library exhibit of Howard Fast's books in many languages.* * *
P.S. While you're there, don't forget to register for the coming term.