Page 152 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
not come to terms with his own nature, and is constantly strain­
ing at the leash, dissatisfied and searching. He has not estab­
lished total fulfillment professionally and has not integrated a
coherent pattern o f living. He has not discovered a life partner
and is unsettled erotically and emotionally. The world described
is one aspiring to spirituality and to a metaphysic, but earthed
in pointlessness.
This alienation effect is concretized variously, in, for example,
the very geography o f Tel-Aviv. After encountering a group
o f young thugs on a walk with Yisrael, Goldmann says: “This
is no longer my city, and it never will be now. It’sjust garbage
.”32
Later on, he reflects self-consciously on his own estrangement
from his environment. The city is no longer his home; they
have grown apart. His stance in regard to the city becomes in­
deed representative o f his stance in general. He breaks o ff his
relationship with his girlfriend Dita, a relationship which he
had found impossible and unfulfilling. But in the wake o f tem­
porary relief, he experiences anti-climax and loss. A little fur­
ther on, we have a description o f the loss o f connection with
his family, which was “ . . . governed by estrangement, as each
went in his own direction, settling somewhere else and in an­
other world
.”33
This familiar sense o f growing up with the con­
comitant growing apart characterizes Goldmann’s world in all
its aspects. There is an inevitability in Goldmann’s suicide, not
only engendered by the opening o f the novel, but also by the
expand ing breach. Now a chasm opened out between
Goldmann and his objects, his family, his friends, his city, his
women, until there was nothing left o f himself. He is not rav­
aged by a sudden attack o f irrational depression, but prepares
his departure consciously and gradually, taking his leave per­
manently from a world that is no longer meeting him.
The novel ends on a note o f total disintegration. Goldmann
is now dead. Caesar is smitten mightily, paradoxically both by
death and life, by the prospect o f his son’s imminent demise
and the unwelcome pregnancy o f his wife, Tehilla. Yisrael’s girl
friend Ella leaves him to go to Jerusalem. She has now given
birth to an unwanted child, and is estranged from both the
infant and from Yisrael himself. There can be no more terrible
32.
Ibid .,
p. 191.
33.
Ibid .,
p. 214.