Page 76 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 34

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
instrumental in setting the forest ablaze. Other stories of Yeho-
shua’s are also a melange of the real and the symbolic.
Oz writes both novels and short stories. In both he makes con­
centrated use of images which highlight the deep level of the
story. He deals in extreme emotional states. His first volume of
stories
Arzot ha-Tan
(Lands of the Jackal, 1965), conveys the
howling of the jackal in the background. The jackal represents
a threat; when Jerusalem is destroyed, it will be “a habitation
of jackals” (Jeremiah 10:22). The heroine of the novel
Michael
Sheli
(My Michael, 1968), indulges in fantasies of rape and degra­
dation which also bring “cool pleasure.” And in the novel
Laga-
‘at ba-Mayim, Laga'at ba-Ruah
(Touch the Water, Touch the
Wind, 1973), the themes of threat and Jewish destiny are woven
together when the main characters, united in Israel, are sub­
merged in a violent earthquake. The geological image is sig­
nificant for Oz (Michael in
My Michael
is a geologist), as the
earth’s surface is liable to crack, whatever security it seems to
offer. But also in his other stories the most powerful feeling
evoked is the sense of danger.
A much less dramatic picture emerges from the work of Ama­
lia Kahana-Carmon and Aharon Appelfeld (b. 1932). Kahana-
Carmon, who has published a collection of stories and a novel,
is concerned with the subtle delineation of the intricacy of per­
sonal relationships, particularly as seen by the female partner
involved. Appelfield, who came to Israel as an adolescent, is less
interested in individual psychology than in the fixity of rela­
tion between people, as determined by recent European history
with its effect on the Jewish population. His stories (and, more
recently, novels) are those of the survivor carefully etching the
past as frozen into the present; the silhouette remains. A recent
novella of his, however, “Baddenheim, Ir Nofesh,” (Baddenheim,
City of Rest) reproduced in the volume
Shanim ve-Shaot
(Years
and Hours, 1975), experiments with a more flexible form. It por­
trays the changing shape of a spa community and its Jews, as
Nazi policy gradually takes effect. The sense of decadence, per­
ceptible to the reader but ignored by the participants, is remin­
iscent of Mann’s
Death in Venice.