Page 32 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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Furstenberg
| 24
defiance implied by suicide, particularly in a fledgling country
struggling to emerge, have made his women the most profound
critics of Zionism and Israel.
SHAHAR AND ORPAZ
Woman is seen as the emotional, idiosyncratic touchstone again
in the mother-figure of David Shahar’s
His Majesty's Agent
and
Yitzhak Orpaz’s
Tomozhenna Tales. His Majesty's Agent
(admittedly
one of Shahar’s weaker books in comparison to his trilogy
Palace o f
Shattered Vessels
), weaves a story of military and sexual exploits over
a period of thirty years from World War II to the Yom Kippur
War. At the same time Shahar builds into his narrative a foil to this
male world in the figure of the narrator’s idiosyncratic mother.
Closing herself off in a room with a cracked mirror, she dresses up
before it living out her own fantasies. Shahar’s story implies that
this is what reflects real value. It lies not in the external world of
power but in the interstices of life, the inner world, and its distort­
ing mirror of art. The idiosyncratic mother, literally throwing
money out of the windows, defies the father’s world of banking, the
respectability and conventionality of life, much as Hannah in a
much more forceful demonic manner in
My Michael
undermines
Michael’s stable academic world and Batya in “The Hollow Stone”
challenges the normalcy of the kibbutz.
We have in Yitzhak Orpaz’s
Tomozhenna Tales
a lyrical story
about childhood in Eastern Europe, another example of the idio­
syncratic mother as a symbol of the artist living in her own world
flouting the mores and conventions of the society around her. She
lives in a fantasy world dreaming of the return of a former lover
who will take her off to Eretz Yisrael, the object of all yearning.
Like Shahar, Orpaz’s young narrator aligns himself with the idio­
syncratic, romantic mother and treks daily with her to the outskirts
of town to await the redemption of love.
Notwithstanding the richness of their idiosyncratic women,
Shahar and Orpaz, like many other Israeli writers, also depict
women in narrow sexual terms. In Shahar’s
His Majesty's Agent
we