Page 149 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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YUDKIN / REALITY IN THE FICTION OF YAAKOV SHABTAI
141
ROLE OF N A R R A T O R
The technique o f the novel is not then that o f unbounded
association on the part o f the protagonists, but that o f
narratorial association linked within the enormous paragraph.
This omniscient,
invisible
narrator keeps control o f the narrative.
It is he who has determ ined that the passage o f time covered
be nine months, that there are to be three main characters,
that the theme be death, and that this association be ensured
by the book’s open ing and closure. The narrative is one o f ex ­
panding circles, taking o f f from a particular moment in time,
place and character, and reaching out to others touched by
memory and connection. The unity o f the novel is created by
this narrator, who holds the action together, with its characters,
time, scale and scene.
As in any novel, the narrative space o f
ZD
is not evenly dis­
tributed according to the narrative time scale. The first eighty-
four pages (about one third o f the novel) describe the day o f
the funeral, i.e. one third o f the narrative is concerned with
about one two hundred and seventieth o f the time covered.
It had begun to look as though the narrator was locked into
a sequential narrative,24 building an equivalent o f the time de­
scribed with the text itself. But at this point in the narrative
o f
ZD
(p. 92), there is an anticipatory jump in mid-sentence
that jolts us into the next day. At one moment, Caesar is prom­
ising his son that he would take him to a film on the day fol­
lowing: “ . . . but then Caesar d idn’t come as he got involved
with an American tourist, who took up his whole afternoon and
evening till she let him sleep with her.”25 This anticipatory leap,
when the narrative moves forward but then again backwards,
is confirmed a few pages later in the description o f Yisrael wak­
ing up the next day with Elah.26 So there has been some hov­
ering between one day and the next, anticipating what is com­
ing, then moving back, before shifting unambiguously forward,
when again the narrative threads and temporal positions o f the
three protagonists are reassembled.
After the detailed description o f the first day, the link be­
tween narrative space and the time described becomes much
24. Following what Genette calls “duree.”
25.
ZD,
p. 92.
26. Ibid., p. 115.