Page 76 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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ing the lake’s edge. This problem precipitates another: Which
man will carry her in his arms? Victoria’s thin shoes continue to
appear in the novel as an erotic factor which symbolizes her
doomed love for Johans. When she comes to his parents, there is
again mention of her thin shoes, stained by the muddy path.
the shoe is again used as a symbol of erotic failure.
Nagel tries to become intimate with Sarah, the maid at the hotel,
using his shoes as an excuse. He complains that she neglected his
shoes, but she ignores him. In his enchanting dreams of the blind
girl in the dreamy tower, the shoe is again introduced as an erotic
symbol. The blind girl asks him to take off his shoes because they
have become filled with water. When she leaves him he whispers,
“Please stay, I know why you asked me to take off my shoes.” She
refuses to join him, and once more, the shoe symbolizes erotic
Glahn tries to overcome the threat of Edvarda’s erotic
superiority and he belittles her by repeating, “her shoes are so
shabby and worn!” When he takes Eva to the forest, he concen­
trates his erotic passions upon her legs. But later, Eva is acciden­
tally killed by him and his love of her is doomed — as are all his
loves. When he first meets Henrietta, the young shepherdess, she
is knitting a sock, but she, too, rejects him. Glahn’s erotic antago­
nist, a doctor, is described as limping. Glahn, in a moment of bit­
ter despair, shoots himself in the leg, hoping this act will help him
attain the doctor’s level of attractiveness. O f course, he fails again,
as when he throws Edvarda’s shoe into the take. Iselin, the female
figure who makes love to Glahn in his daytime dream, constantly
whispers, “Tie my shoelace, my love!” The only time Glahn fully
consummates his love — reflected by the symbol of the shoe — is
in a dream, never in reality. All his erotic efforts, which are
expressed through the symbol o f the shoe, are hopelessly
The following scene from Agnon’s lyrical tale, “The Hill of
(Givat ha-Hol
) strikes a familiar Hamsunian chord in the
author’s use of the shoe and its various metonyms as an erotic