Page 51 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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(iREENSTEIN / NOBODY CHASINt; EVERYMAN
43
less Montreal nephew in pu rsu it o f Melech risks becoming a
nobody like the anonymous poet described in Klein’s “Portrait
o f the Poet as Landscape”: “Nobody, it appears,/ either unde r
his real name o r his alias,/ missed him enough to repo r t.” Be­
tween these two unstable entities o f nobody chasing Everyman,
the Jew and the Canadian seek to establish a stable identity,
but the arduous rou te is beset with obstacles.
Bound for Israel, the nephew declares: “my life was, and is,
bound to the country o f my fa th e r’s choice, to Canada” (p. 28)
— o r is it Canaan for Abraham Moses Klein who echoes the
First Scroll th roughou t
The Second Scroll
? By the end o f the novel
the nephew once again underscores the polarity o f two home­
lands o r two versions o f Zion: “I tu rn ed for the last time from
the city o f Safed, holy city” (p. 93). In this ambivalent tu rn afte r
Melech’s dea th , Klein’s n a r ra to r will presumably re tu rn to Can­
ada to contemplate the interrelationship between Israel and the
Diaspora. T h a t the conclusion o f
The Second Scroll
is not entirely
redemptive may be seen in Klein’s subsequent composition “In
Praise o f the Diaspora” where he reveals his d isappointment
in the Israeli indifference to two thousand years o f Jewish his­
tory. Shortly thereafter, Klein, at one time a spokesman for
his community, en tered a seventeen-year period o f silence until
his dea th in 1972, thereby signalling the precarious situation
o f the original artist hovering between the status o f nobody and
Everyman.
CONTENDING FORCES
Klein’s “tu rn s” suggest changes in place, time, and state o f
mind; they constitute the transitions in a culture and society
fluctuating between Old and New Worlds. T h roughou t
The Sec­
ond Scroll
geographic directions imply existential directions
where a Canadian Jew searches for his identity at home and
abroad among the real and mythic cities o f America, Europe,
and Israel. In this unique novel, the refugee’s contours are
shaped by detou rs; nobody and Everyman form a double —
like two sides o f one coin, like the double exposure o f Melech’s
pho tog raphed image, o r like Klein’s double vision o f the
Canadian-Jewish dilemma (Marshall, p. 55). Debates among the
newly-arrived in Montreal reflect these opposing political and
economic factions in the twenties and thirties in North America