Page 78 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
negative connotations, as a symbol of continued emotional and
erotic frustration.
In
Mysteries,
Dagny’s dog struggles in his chains, while Nagel
(the rejected lover) tries to follow Dagny at night. Finally, Nagel
kills the dog, a symbolic act representing his desperate attempt to
get rid of the erotic obstacle. The killing of a dog as an expression
of erotic frustration also occurs in
Pan.
Edvarda, a “la belle dame
sans merci” figure who contemptibly rejects Glahn, asks him to let
her keep his dog, Aesop. Glahn fulfills her request, but gives vent
to his erotic frustration. He shoots Aesop and delivers the corpse
to Edvarda.
The metonym of the dog as an expression of erotic frustration
is found also in a scene from
Mysteries.
Nagel meets his former
lover, Kama, whose love is false, motivated only by his money.
During their conversation, Kama reminds Nagel: “Do you
remember the day when you bit a dog who sprang toward me as if
it was about to bite? The dog did not run away, but crawled at
your feet; and you patted him and tears flowed from your eyes
. . The astonishing change in Nagel’s attitude from aggression
to tender affection toward the threatening dog, symbolically
reflects Nagel’s openness to his sexually frustrating destiny and
expresses his humble acceptance of the failure of his love.
STRIKING PARALLEL
The same scene, under similar erotic circumstances, occurs in
one of Agnon’s most touching love stories, “In the Prime of Her
Life”
(Bidmi Yameha).
This tender love tale, which echoes the lan­
guage of the Song of Songs, is narrated in the form of a memoir
by Tirtsa, a young woman who desperately attempts to compen­
sate for her mother’s unfulfilled love by marrying Akavia Mazal,
the man her mother had loved but was forced to reject. Tirtsa
soon realizes that a previous reality cannot be regained.
When Tirtsa’s mother faces her own grim reality, she chooses a
passive escape, as expressed in her name Leah, meaning
“fatigue.” She sinks into grief, abandons life, and dies. Her
daughter, Tirtsa, chooses an active escape, suggested by her
name which means “will.” Although her marriage to her mother’s
rejected lover is gloomy, she detaches herself from reality by
recounting the story of her life in the form of a memoir.
The metonym of the dog, which indicates erotic frustration