Page 66 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

Basic HTML Version

The story weaves through paradox, irony, jealousy, guilt and
expiation , and symbolically suggests th a t while destruc tion
abounds, it is forever being neutralized by the creative as rep re
sented by the birth o f a new life.
Where a Man Belongs
(1969) is more complex still. Pu
at its simplest, this is a tale o f a journey , both physical and
spiritual, in which a German Jew in Australia seeks an identity
and an understanding o f what constitutes the substance o f
man’s life.
The novel centers around the relationship between the Jew,
Max, a writer, and his friend, protege, enemy and alter ego, Paul
Birtle. Together, they travel to Germany, Max ostensibly to settle
restitution matters, Paul to marry the widow Gud run with whom
he has been corresponding. It is a novel o f repeated confronta
tions — with simplicity, with evil, with one’s self, one’s past, and
one’s fellows. The re tu rn to the scenes o f one’s childhood is al
ways a potentially poignant theme, but where the original scene i
pre-War Germany and is coupled with the pathology o f one’
present personality, that re tu rn is more than ju s t a safe nostalgi
trip down memory lane; it becomes the stuff o f drama, o f tragedy
through betrayal, of self-revelation.
Martin, as well as being the most cosmopolitan, emerges as th
most intellectual of the writers presented here. His work rise
above the narrower concerns o f his writer-peers to embrac
grander issues, the deeply rooted and universal impulses to hat
and love, to create and destroy, to suffer and forgive, and to loo
unsparingly into oneself no less than into others for elementa
meaning and purpose.
With Harry Marks, a fourth-generation Australian Jew, wh
regrettably died in 1977 at the age o f 55, one returns to a na r
rower thematic range, but also to g reater warmth and gentleness
The Heart is Where the Hurt Is
(1966) is basically a relativel
straightforward story. Here, homely European Jews come t
Australia before the war. They are joined by Liesl, a young gir
who has left behind her parents who eventually die at the hand
of the Germans. The crisis comes when Liesl falls in love with
German. In ano ther’s hands, this situation might have bee
treated with agonizing intensity, but Marks is a man whose writ