Page 74 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 34

Basic HTML Version

64
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
I, 1954) which satirized a new tendency in Israeli society to re­
ject the pioneering work of the founders of the State and to
add to an unproductive bureaucracy. Such were the values of
the new, small minded urban bourgeoisie. The author’s irony
implied a value system upholding the State’s official ethos. But
his novel
Ha-Hai al ha-Met
(Living on the Dead, 1965) por­
trays a character, Jonas, who feels he must reject that ethos in
order to live an authentic existence. Jonas, a writer, is commis­
sioned to devote a book to the Israeli pioneer Davidov, and is
currently being sued for breach of contract. The writer comes
to regard his subject as an enemy whose very presence is threat­
ening. He would be totally rid of it: “I don’t want an enemy
in my house. . . I want to be my own master. I want to rest.”
Benjamin Tammuz (b. 1919), originally a writer of short stories
about Tel Aviv childhood
H o lo t ha-Zahax)
(Golden Sands, 1950),
similarly situates a character in a novel of the same period
Be-
sof Ma'arav
(At the Edge of the West, 1966), known in English
translation as
A Castle in Spain
(Indianapolis, 1973). This is an­
other first-person account of a man, wounded in the War of In­
dependence, who changes his job with great frequency. Although
greatly gifted, his one ambition is to escape: “I wanted to hide
from the world.” He, too, has an affair with a girl from a Scandi­
navian embassy, Nora, and together they go to Spain. He had
thought of Spain as a haven, but once there, the old historical
associations for the Jew become real.
The theme of escape reappears in various novels of the pe­
riod.
Lo me-Akhshav, Lo mi-Kan
(Not of This Time, Not of
This Place, 1963) by Yehuda Amichai (b. 1924), known primarily
as a poet, treats it as does also
Ha-Yored le-Ma(alah
(Descending
Upward, 1961) by Yoram Kaniuk (b. 1929), known in English
translation as
The Acrophile
(New York, 1961), where the narra­
tor finds himself alone in New York, a strange town. But the nar­
rator loves the strangeness and embraces his own alienation. A
slightly younger writer, Pinhas Sadeh (b. 1929), takes this lone­
liness for granted in his novel
A l Mazavo Shel ha-Adam
(On
Man’s Condition, 1967). In his earlier writing he had already
disclaimed interest in the merely national: “The national war
had no meaning for me and I could see nothing to fight for”
(
Ha-Hayyim ke-Mashal,
Life as a Parable, 1957).