Martin Buber's Life and Work: The Early Years, 1878-1923
Excerpt from Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue
This book is the product of a dialogue, a dialogue first with the works of Martin Buber and later with Martin Buber himself. The influence of Buber's thought has steadily spread throughout the last fifty years until today Buber is recognized throughout the world as occupying a position in the foremost ranks of contemporary philosophers, theologians, and scholars. What has made such men as Hermann Hesse and Reinhold Niebuhr speak of Martin Buber as one of the few wise men living on the earth today, however, is not only his eminence as a thinker but also his concern with the 'lived concrete, ' the everyday reality which he takes up into his imagining and bears as his responsibility. Buber's eightieth birthday, on February 8, 1958, was celebrated all over the world, for Martin Buber is one of the truly universal men of our time. 'More than any other person in the modern world, ' said the Protestant theologian H. Richard Niebuhr at one such celebration, 'more even than Kierkegaard, Martin Buber has been for me, and for many of my companions, the prophet of the soul and the witness to that truth which is required of the soul not as solitary, but as companionable being.' In a time in which we are in danger of losing our birthright as human beings, Martin Buber has shown us what it means to live as men.
When in 1944 Dr. Simon Greenberg gave me the first book of Buber's that I ever read - The Legend of the Baal-Shem - Buber himself was practically unknown in America and only two of his books were in English, both published in England. Even when I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Buber in 1950, few had heard of him and few of his books were published here. Today more than twenty of Buber's books have been published in English, most of them in both England and America, several more translations are underway, five of his books have been reissued in paperback editions, four anthologies of his writings have appeared, and several books in English have been written on his thought, including the forthcoming Philosophy of Martin Buber volume of The Library of Living Philosophers, which I have had the honor of editing. In 1951-1952 Buber spent almost a year in America under the auspices of the Jewish Theological Seminary; in 1957 he was brought here by the Washington School of Psychiatry to deliver the fourth William Alanson White Memorial Lectures; and in 1958 he was brought to this country by Princeton University.
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