Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Unlucky Ludwig

Lost Books

Print Email

“Lost Books” is a weekly series highlighting forgotten books through the prism of Tablet Magazine’s and’s archives. So blow the dust off the cover, and begin!

Ludwig Lewisohn was born in 1882, but as Tablet columnist Josh Lambert wrote in 2008, the Berlin-born, South Carolina-raised writer might have remained better-known in the Jewish literary world had he been born several decades later. A foreigner truly desperate to be accepted, Lewisohn ultimately embraced his outsider status and used it to fuel his literary work (Lambert called Alexander Portnoy Lewisohn’s “unacknowledged spiritual descendant”). “When it comes to ethnic pride,” Lambert pointed out, “our America looks a lot like the one that Lewisohn imagined.”

Yet we should remember Lewisohn as more than just a writer who found inspiration—and literary success, albeit short-lived—through his ethnic identity. Published too early to be fully appreciated by the public were Lewisohn’s candid literary reckonings of sexual identity. “It’s unfortunate that despite his energetic and eclectic criticism,” Lambert lamented, “his insights into sex and expression, and his role in introducing Freudianism into American fiction, most of his books—including the novels Stephen Escott (1930) and An Altar in the Field (1934), which, more directly than either Island or Crump, associate Jewish distinctiveness with sexual health—remain out of print.”

Read Comeback Kid, by Josh Lambert

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Ralph Melnick says:

A full treatment of the fascinating life and important work of Ludwig Lewisohn, summarized in Josh Lambert’s article referenced above, can be found in Ralph Melnick’s two volume biography, The Life and Work of Ludwig Lewisohn.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Unlucky Ludwig

Lost Books

More on Tablet:

Rediscovering the First Woman Rabbi

By Laura Geller — Ordained in 1935, Regina Jonas died at Auschwitz. Now, she’s being honored.