Page 114 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
to the mythic quality o f his writing, the range o f his work, the
variations o f reaction or the sensitivity with which he records per­
sonal and family disintegration in face of the Scourge. Most o f all,
it misconstrues the source o f inexorability in Appelfeld’s fiction.
The Holocaust is inexorable according to Appelfeld because it is
a consequence o f a natural law. Anti-Semitism has become the
natural law o f the hun ter and hunted. Appelfeld uses this sym­
bolism often, primarily in the stories in
Be-Komat Ha-Karka
(On
the First Floor). We also see this hunting imagery in
Tzili.
As
Hanna Yaoz has shown, the “trans-historical” fiction to which
Appelfeld’s work belongs sees the Holocaust rooted not exclu­
sively in the Nazi rise to power but more basically, in the hun ter
nature of man, and the poison o f anti-Semitism in western civili­
zation.13 This is at the root o f the inexorability o f events in
Appelfeld’s fiction.
Appelfeld’s approach is what has been justly called an arche­
typal one. It is his technique for dealing with the horrendous ma­
terials o f the Holocaust whereby he creates structures o f mind
and feeling that haunt us and transform our consciousness. Out
o f the silence o f his work arises a terrible awe. His method, too,
has its pitfalls, yet his books are among the most sensitive works
on the period.
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
Appelfeld is the author o f 11 Hebrew novels and short story
collections, as well as a book of Hebrew essays. His following
books have been translated into English:
In the Wilderness.
Stories. Trans. Tirza Sandbank and others. J e ­
rusalem: Ah’shav Publishing House, 1965.
Badenheim 1939 .
Trans. Dalya Bilu. Boston: D.R. Godine,
1980.
The Age o f Wonders.
Trans. Dalya Bilu. Boston: D.R. Godine,
1981.
Tzili: The Story o f a Life.
Trans. Dalya Bilu. New York: E.P.
Dutton, 1983.
The Retreat.
Trans. Dalya Bilu. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1984.
13 Op. cit., p. 181.