Page 61 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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LOW IN / STEINERS 'S HEL ICOPTERS
5 5
us, a millenium o f remembered life. . . . I wouldn’t trade. I
wouldn’t, (p. 117)
Compared to the dep th o f Gervinus’ feeling, the elegant fo rn i­
cation o f the Frenchman Blaise Josquin is superficial play, skin-
deep sensuality. To bring H itler back for judgm en t now would be
an inconvenience, a sort o f
coitus interruptus.
It would stir up
embarrassing memories o f Vichy, o f collaboration. Even Ameri­
can democracy, rep resen ted by a press conference and
concerned , it would seem exclusively, with public opinion, does
not want Hitler b rough t back to Jerusalem . T he civilized world
reacts, not to the fact o f H itler’s re tu rn , bu t to the dram a that
r e tu rn represents. Cumulatively, the reaction o f the civilized
world to Hitler is similar to that o f the Ind ian savage Teku , who
reacts to the rhythm , to the gestures, to the performance o f A.H.
and not to the reality which the perform ance represents.
Much o f the criticism leveled at George Steiner has focused on
the perception by the critics that A.H. is given the last
word
by the
au tho r and that, therefo re , his attack against the Jews remains
unanswered. It is suggested here tha t ne ither the novel nor the
play ends with A .H .’s “These are my last words.” T here is, after
all, the reaction o f Teku and the open-ended highly symbolic
hovering o f the helicopters, which represents the possible reac­
tions o f the outside world.
TWO TEKUS
T h e re are, by the way, two Tekus, the Teku o f George S teiner’s
novel, and the Teku o f Christopher H am p ton ’s play.13 S teiner’s
Teku , at the end, is more than willing to accept A .H .’s arguments
about the Jews, leaping up to cry out “Proved.” Hamp ton’s Teku
is more o f a noble savage, like the Germans o f the 1930s who were
convinced by the rhetoric o f the false Messiah to follow the ir
instincts,
no ma tter how base. Both Tekus demonstrate S teiner’s
final point — as do the hovering helicopters: In a world where
the re is both good and evil, we must, after Auschwitz, consider
the possibility that evil triumphs.
I f ever a text dem anded a commentary, it is George S teiner’s
novel. What the novel demands, moreover, is a
midrashic
13 Hampton’s innovation was first noted by Roy Oliver, “Steiner on Stage,”
The
Jewish Quarterly,
30(1982):43.