Page 148 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
was his own fault. Because for no reason at all, he had tried
to be frank and became ridiculous. He was already over forty
and was well aware o f his helplessness and o f the possibilities
which were constantly diminishing. He realised how absurd and
pointless was the scooter ep isode .”20 Goldmann finds it difficult
to come to terms with that very substance which he must em ­
brace: “He trained him self to live his own slow and certain death
with total equanimity . . . but he could not be reconciled to the
fact that one day he would cease to exist for ever.”21 But this
paradox is at the source o f Goldmann’s suicide. By killing him­
self, he, as it were, forestalls the angel o f death, and thus can
“smite death with its own weapon.”22 Indeed, do not Caesar
and Yisrael act out this theme in their own ways, and is not
this the leitmotif o f the whole novel?
When considering the scope o f
ZD ,
the most prom inent fea­
ture is its unusual presentation. The novel (282 pages in the
dense Hebrew text) comprises one single paragraph. This in­
sistence places enormous technical demands on the narrative
resources o f the author, who not only moves in and out from
one character’s consciousness to the other’s, but who also has
to make appropriate shifts o f time. The procedures devised con­
sist, beyond the grammar o f tense, o f various time indicators,
prepositions, auxiliary phrases, narrative markers and consid­
erable stretches o f narrative explication. The story is conveyed
by an omniscient narrator, who, nevertheless, does not merely
comment on the external features o f his “plot,” but also from
within each character’s own consciousness. This sometimes takes
the form o f explication and sometimes o f stream o f conscious­
ness. Nevertheless, a good deal o f attention is devoted to a pre­
cise rendition o f sequences o f events in most painstaking detail.
In order to convey this, sometimes the sentences are inordinate­
ly long and complex, including a range o f subclauses and asides.
One such example is a single sentence o f twenty-three lines,23,
recalling a past incident with the three main characters sitting
together shortly after the death o f Goldmann’s father.
20. Ibid., p. 40.
21. Ibid., p. 46.
22. Ibid., p. 60.
23. Ibid., p. 58, the sentence beginning on the eleventh line o f the page and
terminating on the last line.