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“No matter how brilliant it may be, the human intellect that wishes to keep to a plane above the events of the day is not really alive,” wrote Martin Buber in 1932. The correspondence of Martin Buber reveals a personality passionately involved in all the cultural and political events of his day.
Drawn from the three-volume German edition of his correspondence, this collection includes letters both to and from the leading personalities of his day—Albert Einstein and Albert Schweitzer, Hemann Hesse, Franz Kafka, and Stefan Zweig, Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, S.Y. Agnon, Gershom Scholem, and Franz Rosenzweig. These exchanges capture the dynamics of seven decades of lived history, reflected through the eyes of a man who was the conscience of his generation.
One of the leading spiritual thinkers of the twentieth century, Buber is best known for his work of religious existentialism, I and Thou. A prime mover in the German-Jewish renaissance of the 1920s, he taught comparative religion and Jewish ethics at the University of Frankfurt. Fleeing the Nazis in 1938, Buber made his home in Jerusalem, where he taught social philosophy at the Hebrew University. As resident sage of Jerusalem, he developed an international reputation and following, and carried on a vigorous correspondence on social, political, and religious issues until the end of his life.
Included in this collection are Buber’s exchanges with many Americans in the latter part of his life: Will Herberg, Walter Kaufmann, Maurice Friedman, Malcolm Diamond, and other individuals who sought his advice and guidance. In the voices of these letters, a full-blooded portrait emerges of a towering intellect ever striving to live up to philosophy of social engagement.
“Reading the letters of Martin Buber us like looking through a clear window into his soul and entering with him into an I—Thou relationship. What a gift this volume is.” —Chaim Potok
“This is a book of tremendous significance not only for anyone interested in modern religious and social thought but for anyone with genuine curiosity about one of the great embodiments of the human spirit.” —Harvey Cox
“The letters of Martin Buber are crucial documents not only of Jewish but German intellectual history as well. They are indispensible for anyone concerned with the humanistic side of Zionism. . . . They have great contemporary relevance.” —George L. Mosse, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin
“These selected letters serve as an entry into the interpersonal world of the great Jewish philosopher. In elaborating on his relations with contemporary literary intellectuals, religious thinkers, and Zionist leaders, they reveal the issues that mattered to him and to his remarkable circle of acquaintances.” —Michael A. Meyer, Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion
“A magnificent selection of letters by a great correspondent. It shos Buber’s place at the very corner of Jewish and German intellectual life for over half a century.” —Arthur Greene, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
“The Letters of Martin Buber cover the better part of this century . . . and may well be its deepest spiritual record. No editor could have produced the present selection with as great care and fidelity as the late Nahum N. Glatzer [and his successor] Paul Mendes-Flohr.” —Emil L. Fackenheim