Page 41 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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the novel reads at first glance and so indeed nearly all of its critics
have read it.
And yet a closer look at
A Late Divorce
(and it is just such a look
that a translator can hardly help taking) reveals that not only is
the book not intended to be merely the story of one unhappy Is­
raeli family, but that behind its family drama whose stage is set
with all the props of a meticulous realism there exists a complex
symbolic machinery that is activated by no less than four-
thousand years of Jewish history! Indeed, it is Jewish history
itself, Yehoshua would appear to believe, that must be read as a
family drama of mythic dimensions — a point of view put forth in
an essay of his called
The Diaspora
A Neurotic Solution
that was
published a few years before
A Late Divorce
and in which the thesis
is proposed that, because from its inception Jewish monotheism
proclaimed the absolute supremacy of an exclusively masculine
God over the de-deified feminine forces of Earth and Nature, the
Jewish people has suffered throughout its history from the psy­
chic repression of its own feminine side. In Yehoshua’s words:
In the consciousness of the Jewish people the natural bal­
ance between Father-God and Mother-Earth was perma­
nently disturbed by the dominant male God’s usurpation of
all functions.
Thus, Zionism, Yehoshua implies here — for the essay itself deals
only with the pathology of the Diaspora — has been among other
things an attempt to redress this imbalance, a kind of collective
Jungian therapy, as it were, by which the Jewish psyche could be
healed and made whole again, its feminine “anima” liberated and
restored to a healthy functionality by the people’s return to its
Yet if such a psychic reconciliation was one of Zionism’s deep
unconscious aims, the Israeli reality it has created,
A Late Divorce
suggests, has gone nightmarishly askew: the repressed Jewish an­
ima has indeed re-emerged, but rather than integrate itself
harmoniously with the masculine principle it has run murder­
ously amuck, producing a sick society (two of the Kaminka’s three
children suffer from serious sexual disturbances and the son of
the third has a heart attack at the age of nine) and vengefully
seeking to destroy the patriarchal “animus” that has long kept it
in bondage, so that in the end the two have been driven even fur­
ther apart — or, in the scheme of the novel, divorced. Central to