Page 52 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

Basic HTML Version

40
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
much more like Yonatan. And this is especially so because
Yonatan is no longer the same either. In fact,
With his black beard, his long, ascetic face, his slightly
sunken eyes, and the new expression of seriousness that he
had on his lips, Yonatan Lifshitz resembled a young Jewish
Talmudist from an old rabbinical family who was studying
to be a rabbi himself.
He has become more thoughtful, more inward, more suffering,
and more Jewish — in a word, “Diasporized.” Nor does he mind
sharing his wife with Azariah. On the contrary, he moves back in
to his old home and the three of them live happily together.
When Rimona gives birth to a baby girl, whose father either of
the two man may be, both of them help her to raise it. She too is a
different person. She has become more womanly; her girlish
body has filled out, and, in place of the bitter almond perfume
she once scented it with, “gives off its own smell, a smell of rip­
ening pears”; while “her face that had grown round shone with a
fine radiance, like the halo around a full moon.”
Such an ending (for here
A Perfect Peace
more or less con­
cludes) may strike the reader — as indeed it does some members
of the kibbutz — as less than entirely acceptable. But by now it
should be clear that, besides purporting to be realistic fiction,
A
Perfect Peace
has another dimension that comes increasingly to
the fore as the novel draws to a close. Indeed, with the weakening
of its realistic substructure, the last pages of the book have a
pronouncedly allegorical quality. Having started out in a state of
opposition the split halves of the contemporary Jewish psyche —
that of the introverted, intellectual, hypersensitive Diaspora Jew
and of the earthy, rugged, overpractical Israeli — have not only
ended up co-existing peacefully but have virtually become one
another, each taking on the other’s complementary aspects until
a near-perfect synthesis has been achieved. And in doing so they
have taken possession of, and jointly made fruitful, the same
woman — or rather, the same Land, for, like Naomi Kaminka in
A Late Divorce,
Rimona is associated with a series of earth images
that leave little room for doubt that symbolically she is meant to
stand for the Land of Israel itself. In Yonatan’s eyes her face now
has the radiance of a full moon. With this image — the first time
in the novel that the moon, which until now has been identified
with Yonatan’s deepest traumas, assumes a luminous feminine