Page 119 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

Basic HTML Version

KOFMAN / PORTRAIT OF THE ISRAELI AS AN U P R A T E D PERSON
111
the first taking Daniel back to Israel after ten years o f absence;
the second taking him abroad again. His stay in Israel is but a
short interval in his perpetual wandering, an unsuccessful effort
at renewing his ties with his family, his girlfriend, and his home­
land. The protagonist, Daniel, is a totally uprooted person who
feels compelled to be on the move, a sort o f “modern Wandering
Jew.” Reality is conceived o f as some huge carnival in which every
occurrence is but an exchange o f masks. There is a terrible sense
o f void behind the mask. “Masquerade” is like an abstract paint­
ing in which uprootedness does not even have a distinct face.
Semo’s earlier novel,
E tzHa-Tu t
(Mulberry Tree, 1979), has more
Israeli color and an intimation o f the “Israeli condition” in the
mention o f Dan’s military funeral and o f the protagonist’s service
in the reserves. But above all this novel, too, is concerned with
alienation and wandering . T he up roo ted protagonist lives
“temporarily” away from his wife at his late g randfa ther’s farm
where he tries, unsuccessfully, to recapture the happy days o f his
youth when his beloved brother Dan was still alive. The only
thing that seems to take root are the seeds of Wanderlust which
apparently were planted in the protagonist by his grandfather
who “looked for peace in three continents and did not find it to
the end o f his days.”
Be the name of Ya’akov Buchan’s protagonist Ya’akov as it is in
his first novel
Shenei Hayyei Yaakov
(Jacob’s Life, 1980), or be it
Hayyim as is the case in his second novel
Mi-Yamim Yamirna
(Ever
Since, 1983), it is pretty much the same po rtra it o f a self­
destructive oversexed individual. In both instances the protago­
nist’s wife — whom he loves and hates — holds the key to his sta­
bility and sanity while he goes about chasing young girls. Always
harboring within him an instinct for survival and a deathwish, he
is constantly torn asunder between his desire to settle at home
and a yearning to leave. “I am without a stronghold, without
faith, without roots,” says Ya’akov in one o f his interior mono­
logues. Though the novels take place in Israel — and there are
pages with some beautiful descriptions — the “Israeli condition”
only provides the setting but does not become a focal point. The
c e n te r o f in t e r e s t r em a in s a se lf ish in d iv id u a l whose
uprootedness is the outcome o f his self-indulgence and his re­
fusal to commit himself even to those who love him the most. In
Hayyim’s words: “You are walking within your life and it seems to
you as if you are tied to everybody and everybody is tied to you.