Page 153 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

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YUDKIN / REALITY IN THE FICTION OF YAAKOV SHABTAI
145
fate than this death in life. The lack o f bonding between mother
and child is the ultimate hopelessness. So, at the novel’s end,
Yisrael tears h im self away from this isolated, frigid figure, who
was now saying “no” to the life that she had created. The three
protagonists have indeed formed an anti-life force by their own
procedures.
UNF IN ISH ED TALE
In Shabtai’s posthumous novel,
S o f d a va r (SD ),
the single para­
graph structure is abandoned and a series o f tiers introduced.
The novel is in four parts, in which the fourth explicitly sur­
renders any presumption o f naturalism. The point o f view is
similar, i.e. we have the omniscient narrator commenting on
events. But instead o f three protagonists, where the narrator
shifts the reflecting voice around, we have one single “hero ,”
albeit one combining most o f the described characteristics o f
the earlier novel’s protagonists. But it may be unwise to dwell
too much on the structure o f the novel as being consciously
shaped by the author, as o f course the work was not completed
in the author’s own lifetime, and so was subsequently edited
by his widow and Dan Miron34. However, as it stands, part 1
is written in the spirit o f
ZD ,
whereas the next two parts change
key, when the hero’s mother dies, and when he decides to go
alone on a tour to Amsterdam and London. The final part rep­
resents a surrealistic take-off from pedestrian reality into a
dream heaven o f perfect sex, then rebirth, rather reminiscent
o f one o f the possible conclusions to
The White H o te l
35. Whereas
ZD
has three foci in one structure,
SD
has one focus in four
structures.
However, mythically,
SD
recalls and continues
ZD
as a totality.
Again,
SD
is verbally o f two tenses, the world now (past, as
demanded by the narrative form) as set against the world that
had been, now the long yearned-for, the backdrop to the rather
grey, current existence. The mother o f Meir (our hero) is a
major focus o f this nostalgia, and she not only looks backward
in time, but outwards as well, from the decaying and corrupt
34. For a discussion o f these points, see the two epilogues by Edna Shabtai
and Dan Miron in
SD,
pp. 239 -240 and 243-247 respectively.
35. For a discussion o f these points, see Leon I. Yudkin, “Yaakov Shabtai:
Mi-Zikhron devarim le-Saf davar,”
Kenes London
(Jerusalem, 1984).