Page 143 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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YUDKIN / REALITY IN THE FICTION OF YAAKOV SHABTAI
135
her sake, as had been too the Sabbath peace. The narrator in­
forms us explicitly that he had no particular respect for these
traditions, although he did fear the God that he was convinced
did not exist. But this past is still one to be lamented. The tran­
sition is quite sudden. None o f the mourning ceremonies were
carried out. Her property, such as it was, was disposed o f rap­
idly. The household changed its ways immediately, although
no conscious decision was taken to transform the family routine.
Such a deliberate plan would have implied either disrespect
or ideological opposition, and neither seemed to exist in sig­
nificant measure. But even the anniversary o f her death is not
marked. Years later, he finds her old prayer book, in which
are noted the anniversaries o f the passing o f her own parents.
And now he makes an unsuccessful attempt to recall the date
o f her death. It seems that without formulating any conscious
intention, he has not only defiled her memory by obliterating
it, but altogether severed a link with the past.
We will see in Shabtai’s fiction how the elegiac note is char­
acteristic both o f descriptions o f the past (past perfect) and o f
the ongoing situation (past continuous). The Shabtai protagonist
is constantly living his past in his present, bringing the two into
simultaneous focus, when the former casts its long shadow over
the latter, and determines all its perceptions. The nostalgia ex ­
pressed is not then necessarily a positive assessment o f what
has gone before in its specific content, but can be just a feeling
that what has passed is o f itself a loss.
CH A R AC TE R S IN SE AR CH
Z ikhron d eva r im {ZD )
relays the lives, relationships and
interrelationships o f three middle-aged, middle-class males liv­
ing in Tel-Aviv, over a period o f nine months in the m id­
seventies. There is no one hero. All three protagonists present
various approaches, attempting in different ways to tackle the
problem that is life. All fail, in their own terms. Goldmann,
after seemingly arriving at his destination, surrenders to suicide.
The novel indeed opens with a marker o f the coincidence o f
the two dates — April 1, when Goldmann’s father died, and,
precisely nine months later, January 1, when Goldmann took
his own life. In the interim, Goldmann had made efforts to
attain his own salvation, through diet, through astronomy,