Page 33 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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see both sides of the Israeli writer. On the one hand, there is the
eccentric mother, the extension of the artist, and on the other, the
woman as sex object. Tamara Reinhold is a hard, brittle, albeit sex­
ually adept woman. She is a flat character. There is little attempt
to depict her fully as a person with emotions and attitudes.
In much of Orpaz’s surrealistic fiction woman is also a sexually
determined creature abstracted from concrete, complex totality.
This abstraction leads to the use of archetypal women as actual
characters in his stories. An early story of Orpaz, “The Gazelle
Hunt,” indicates the forces at work in his stories. The lyrical tale
of a man hunting a beautiful gazelle near Eilat is paralleled by the
increasingly erotic and surrealistic interchange between the driver
and the woman in the car who, one suspects, is the wife or compan­
ion of the man hunting the gazelle. “The gazelle’s skin is white and
soft on the inside.” There is something of the pure ideal in this.
The vulgar variation of the theme of male hunting female can be
found in the increasing sexual tension between the driver and the
woman as the driver tells and re-tells the story of the mermaid
caught by the fisherman in the buttocks.
The juxtaposition of hunt and sexuality points up the intercon­
nection between the two. It is a commonplace that there is a
heightening of maleness in face of war which, in turn, heightens
sexuality. It is therefore not surprising that, in Israel, where there
is a constant threat of war, one finds a polarization of the sexes in
life which is depicted in literature. There is also something deeply
sensual about the threat of destruction as we have seen in Amos
Oz’s work. This is also evident in Orpaz’s “The Ants,” which sur-
realistically portrays a frigid woman aroused to sexuality with her
husband when their house is attacked by ants. On the simplest level
of interpretation the efforts to fight the common enemy bring hus­
band and wife closer together. But on a deeper level, there is sweet
sensuality in the resignation of waiting for the destruction. The
couple is closest as they wait for the house to fall upon them. Orpaz
creates elemental male and female figures, the women often being
destructive forces as in “The Ants” and “The Death of Lysanda.”
In spite of the abstract, non-realistic quality of Orpaz’s writing, a
Images o f Women