Page 75 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 34

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YUDKIN / NEW ISRAELI NOVELISTS
65
THE NEW D IREC T ION
There has been a change in direction and tone in the Israeli
fiction of the 60s. Some writers who had made a reputation in
earlier years, experimented in the 70s with “new” forms, not
necessarily rejecting national themes but giving them symbolic
garb or composing tales that sound like allegories. Such is Tam-
muz’s short novel
Ha-Pardes
(The Orchard, 1971), a fable treat­
ing the conflicting claims to the land on the part of Jews and
Arabs. The word “orchard” is not only a physical entity, but
also (in hermeneutic terms) a mnemonic for the four methods
of interpretation, and the secret world of the kabbalists. This
approach is also suggested by the title of Tammuz’s recent novel
Mishlei ha-Bakbukim
(Parables of Bottles, 1975).
Megged has become increasingly interested in sophisticated
narrative techniques, as in
Ha-Hayyim ha-Kezarim
(The Short
Life, 1972), where the banality of the plot, multiple adultery,
is disguised by the irony of a narrative veil. The heroine here,
a literary critic, questions the possibility of realism in the word,
a possibility that this very novel represents. His three recent
works—
A l Ezim va-Avanim
(On Trees and Stones, 1973),
Mah-
barot Ebyathar
(Ebyathar’s Notebooks, 1974) and
Ha-Atalef
(The
Bat, 1975), all deal in various ways with the themes of guilt and
ambiguity, with identity and pseudo-identity (the cloak), with
the confession and the irony of confession.
Literature can never be conveniently divided into generations,
either thematicaly or stylistically. And certain literary approaches,
thought to be archaic at one time, may well reappear later. But
the type of moral allegory we have seen in the recent Israeli fic­
tion of the middle generation is particularly favored by the two
most popular fiction writers of a younger generation—Abraham
B. Yehoshua (b. 1936) and Amos Oz (b. 1939). Yehoshua has
thus far published mainly novellas, a genre that does not neces­
sitate detailed social stratification in its make-up. The sort of
protest illustrated in terms of Sabra realism by Yizhar is taken
up allegorically by Yehoshua in
Mu l ha-Ye‘arot
(Facing the For­
ests, 1968). A mature short-sighted student retreats to a forest
where his function is to guard against the possibility of fire. He
is studying the Crusader period. After making the acquaintance
of the dumb Arab on the spot and learning of the existence of
an Arab village buried beneath the Jewish forest, he himself is