Page 155 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

Basic HTML Version

presents a detailed, precise exposition o f a tourist’s problems
in a strange city. But then the difficulties o f the tourist in ori­
entation assume the proportion o f a metaphor for contempo­
rary man. It is in this condition that paradoxically he longs for
Tel-Aviv, the very town, albeit his home town, from which he
had felt so estranged. In London, his anxiety continues and
peaks with a total collapse and loss o f control in Foyles’ Book­
shop. The fourth and final section tells o f his return (?) to Tel-
Aviv and the transformation. The summit o f his erotic ecstasy
is expressed in his words: “This is the place, this is the place.”42
The moment o f death is, o f its nature, inexpressible in a nar­
rative o f life.
makes this the moment o f rebirth, thus closing
the circle o f the novel. The author, in drawing the present back
to past, to the very start, tries to grasp the essence in a sense
o f tragic life. This is to be found in Shabtai’s work, not in the
life that has anything remarkably unfortunate to it. Life, because
it is life and thus limited, is doomed to death, and must then
bear awareness o f the fact. So fantasy and reality have to be
intermingled in an adequate narrative o f the subject. Shabtai’s
prose aspires to match this subject.
42. Ibid., p. 208.