Page 58 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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46
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Yom Kippur, taken from Isaiah, is transcribed in full. In another
instance, three verses from the
Neilah
service are given. When
thirteen-year-old Yisroel David ben Eliyahu is called to the Torah
for his Bar Mitzvah portion, we are given a translation o f the
exact wording of the cantor’s call. The description of a family
wedding includes the repetition in full o f the seventh blessing of
the traditional
Sheva Berakhot.
Despite the narrato r’s earlier disclaimer that he is indifferent to
the literary qualities of his writing, there is a literary function to
this inclusion of liturgical texts in the narrative. These texts
reproduce in miniature, by the technique of “interior reduplica­
tion,” the function of the larger text:
Inside, Outside
is itself to be a
work of liturgy. Its explicit intention is to serve as a memorial, a
Kaddish,
dedicated by Israel David Goodkind, to his father. This
intention is stated in so many words in the narrative.
PLAN OF THE BOOK
The novel is a framed text.4 The same scene is repeated near
the beginning and near the end of the narrative. The scene is the
description of a visit by an American officer in World War II to
the deathbed of his father. It includes, in both instances, the cita­
tion of the father’s last words:
“Nu, mein offizier, zye a mentsh.”
From a perspective of thirty years, as he rehearses this deathbed
admonition to be a good person — a sort o f ethical will —
Goodkind comments on the lilting Yiddish phrase: “Still trying,
pop, time’s getting short, and it’s uphill all the way, but I ’m trying.
You fooled me making it look so easy” (p. 37). But the novel is
more than a sentimental commentary on a deathbed scene. Some
six hundred pages after the first instance, the narrato r once again
4 For an introduction to the idea o f literary framing see Boris Uspensky, “The
Frame o f the Artistic Text,” in his
A Poetics of Composition.
(Berkeley: Univer­
sity o f California Press, 1973), pp. 137-155 ff., and Jurij Lotman, “The Com­
position of the Verbal Work o f Art: The Frame,” in his
The Structure of theArtis­
tic Text.
(Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Contributions, 1977), pp. 209-299. Both
the notion o f framing and idea o f a “key” to a literary text (alluded to at the
beginning o f this essay) are discussed by Erving Goffman in his
Frame Analysis.
(New York: Harper & Row, 1974). The best treatments o f the technique o f
“interior reduplication” remain untranslated from the French. One article
that is particularly cogent is Bruce Morrissette’s “Un Heritage d’Andre Gide:
la duplication interieure,”
Comparative Literature Studies
8 (1971): 125-142.