Page 171 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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from close companionship or family relations. He is usually
found at an army camp, an outpost, on guard duty late at night or
out in the fields all by himself. Under some form of physical or
emotional stress, having no one in whom he may confide, the in­
dividual withdraws and proceeds to spin about himself a cocoon
of desires, dreams and memories. As a rule, concern with plot
and details of action in Yizhar’s work is secondary to the evolu­
tion of consciousness.
In one story after another, the author’s implication that certain
states of consciousness present impediments to more authentic
forms of knowledge is unmistakable. Measurable, linear time
may either be compressed or expanded to reflect the mind’s au­
tonomy from physical constraints. Linguistically, Yizhar has
shown himself as a poet who prefers prose fiction as his medium.
Complex syntactic forms, a sensitive ear for cadence and symme­
try and remarkable attention to the details of structure have
marked his stories with an uncommon imprint.
Amidst severe external disturbances and personal uncertainty,
the individual consciousness of the character presented seeks a
state of metaphysical harmony. The exceptional stories where
stream of consciousness is not used to reveal the psychic being of
a character are transparently dogmatic and far less ironic than
most of Yizhar’s fiction is acknowledged to be.
The history of Hebrew letters knows of very few instances
where an author in the prime of creativity interrupts his work
without apparent cause and brings to a virtual standstill his liter­
ary activities. S. Yizhar’s role as a writer of prose fiction ended for
all intents and purposes following the 1958 publication of the
Yemei Ziklag.12
What may have at first appeared to be a so-
called “silent period,” the kind of respite which certain creative
minds require, was actually a phase in the artistic metamorphosis
of the author, following which he turned his considerable ener­
gies to the field of education,13 reverted to his original surname
12 Most o f what was later published was in the form o f new editions, collections
and an odd juvenile story or two.
13 Yizhar obtained a doctorate in education at the Hebrew University and has
been teaching at colleges and universities in Israel for many years.