Page 146 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

Basic HTML Version

Realism, and Myth in the Works of
Hazaz: 1933-1943
On the Tenth Anniversary o f His Death
a y im
a zaz
(1898-1973) should be read and unders tood as a
novelist o f ideas. In his fiction he was continually preoccupied
with the dramatization o f theories on the dynamics o f Jewish his­
tory. At the same time, his works demonstrate the artistic conven­
tions o f the literary tradition o f realism. A central characteristic o f
his writings, therefo re , is the blend o f philosophical and realistic
elements, with the realism often utilized to bolster the “tru th ” o f
the philosophy .1
This basic Hazazian blend is seen primarily in his character
depictions. On the one hand , many o f his main characters either
embody o r speak ou t on various ideas.of Jewish history. On the
o ther, they are presented in heigh tened realistic fashion, often in
caricature: burlesque external description, mimetic, me lodra­
matic speech, and idiosyncratic, emblematic gestures. Most o f the
characters, there fo re , have both ideational and representative
dimensions. Hazaz developed this distinctive mix o f characteriza­
tion fea tures mainly in the years 1933-1943. Th is period,
there fo re , rep resen ts a significant, even decisive transition in
Hazaz’s career.
T he period opens with the publication o f “Raham im ha-sabal”
(“Rahamim the Po rter”)2 and closes with “ha-Derasha” (“The
Sermon”),3 the last significant sho rt story o f ideas Hazaz was to
1 See my study,
Ideas in Fiction: The Works o f Hayim Hazaz
(Brown Judaic Studies
Series, No. 31: Scholars Press, 1982), pp. 9-14.
2 Original publication:
Musaf Davar,
VIII, 25 (May 30, 1933). Collected in
Rehayim Shevurim
3 Original publication:
Lu’ah ha-Arets,
II (1943), 82-96. Collected in