Contemporary Israeli Literature: An Anthology

Contemporary Israeli Literature: An Anthology

Contemporary Israeli Literature: An Anthology

Contemporary Israeli Literature: An Anthology

Excerpt

In the midst of an elegant dinner party -- uneasy, as were many Israeli social occasions immediately after the 1973 war -- something unpleasant happens to Izy Ornan.

. . . almost irrelevantly, perhaps because of the embarrassment, the expectation, the startled faces, the lobster left untouched on the bulky, altar-like table -- a sound escaped his mouth, perhaps a tremor, a supplication, an undefined something which burst out from within.

A strange silence fell. Heads turned, searching. Then a sudden tenderness made them look away.

And then, still trembling, astonished at the meaningless sound that had escaped from him, locked up perhaps for a long time, he recognized it as the moment a person knows himself. He was talking in a whisper, as if in selfdefence:

"I don't know. I don't. I have been thinking, maybe. I have been afraid, yes. I had an uncle who used to tell a story about a certain Avreml. It doesn't matter. What he meant to say was that a man can wear himself out trying to decide whether he should get married or not. Doesn't matter. We've got something we carry with us wherever we go, and there's no escape, no escape. Sorry. I hope I'm wrong. I wish I were wrong. Only a question of time. Not even hope. For what, for nothing. No hope whatever. And whoever wants to can run away. If he can. Run away from himself. From ourselves. We can't even do that. And there's no hope. No. So, that's it? So there's no life? All's over? And were it not for wars, there would be no death . . . sorry. It doesn't matter. O.K., so there isn't much, but . . .

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