Page 78 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
assume tha t ou r read e r does actually recall the biblical passage.
Where does tha t leave him? With the conclusion th a t Hefetz has
arrived at th
esummum bonum
o f Life, o f Life as the highest good?
Even if we rem ember the near-cryptic rem ark o f the translator in
his In troduc tion over a h und red pages ago, tha t “Hefetz’s name is
clearly symbolic,” tha t
“hefetz
is also the Hebrew word fo r ‘des ire’”
we are no more en ligh tened than before. What is needed is a
footnote to provide inform ation on plays on words and include
supplementary data on p rop e r names.
Such a footnote would include a quote from Psalms 34:13-15 —
“Who is the man who wants [desires] life, who loves days, tha t he
may see good? Guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from
speaking deceit. T u rn from evil and do good, seek peace and
pu rsue it.” In the Hebrew, we feel the implication more directly:
Y e h e z k e l i s the one who
desires
life! Th is is the significance
o f the family name which B renne r gave his protagonist. This also
gives meaningful emphasis to the passage in which Hefetz’s
sum-
mum, bonum
is Life. It is no t simply a m a tter o f slightly changing a
passage in Genesis fo r the sake of emphasis. B renne r ’s thesis,
central to the entire novel and b rough t to an insightful conclusion
th rough his mouthpiece Hefetz, is tha t Life is the supreme value
for him and , by implication and extension, should be for all men.
I t ’s no t tha t th e re ’s more to the translation o f m odern Hebrew
literature than we ever suspected; it’sju s t that, regrettably, th e re ’s
more to it than has ever been translated.