Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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characterizations of woman in contemporary Israeli literature, its
heroine Hannah is, on the simplest level, a moody, intelligent
woman married to a dutiful, if somewhat dull geologist named
Michael who lives in Jerusalem in the fifties. Michael’s father calls
Hannah a poet who doesn’t write poetry and indeed, the old man’s
compliment points to a recognizable type of woman who, sensitive
and perhaps, self-dramatizing, finds no outward forms or goals to
express this sensitivity. Hannah is attracted to Michael because of
his fineness and steadiness, but he is not exciting or sexually ag­
gressive enough to satisfy or contain her violent emotions. He does
not create the hard reality for Hannah that she had expected from
him initially.
W e were together. I breathed his smell. He felt very real.
So did I. I was not a figment of his thoughts; he was not a fear inside me.
W e were real.
But Michael’s hard, everyday reality is too narrow for Hannah.
It does not satisfy her, yet she has nothing larger to replace it with.
So she escapes into a fantasy world where everything is possible. As
the book develops Hannah emerges as more than a dissatisfied, ro­
mantic housewife. She lives increasingly in a sinister, nightmare
world peopled by demonic forces. She becomes more and more
hysterical.
I would still wake before dawn wide open to the evil voices and recurrent
nightmares, changing and limidess in their nuances. Sometimes a war. Some­
times a flood. A railway disaster. Being lost. I was always rescued by powerful
men who saved me only to betray and abuse me.
Hannah’s violent underground world is obsessed by Arab twins,
boys whom she knew as a child. Now, she sees them as terrorists,
lurking in wait to attack from the other side of the then-divided
city. At the end of the book Hannah, submitting to fantasies fed by
powerfully destructive erotic-sadistic needs, dreams that she is
leading the Arab twins to attack Jewish Jerusalem.
Images o f Women