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LIVING ON THE DEAD by Aharon Megged



Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1971
Publisher: McCall

Megged like Kaniuk (Adam Resurrected, p. 316) reflects a gloweringly introspective turn in Israeli writing and here the righteousness of the fathers becomes a paralyzing visitation of guilt upon the sons. The young author Jonas takes on the assignment of writing a definitive biography of Abrasha Davidov, legendary pioneer giant. Where stones were broken in the dust, where trees were coaxed forth from the desert, where enemies were engaged, Davidov was there, roaring forth folk songs and encouragement -- just, indefatigable, and virile. Jonas gathers material from those who knew Davidov and he remembers his own two meetings with him, but unsullied nobility is too much to bear. Particularly since Jonas is embroiled in his divorce and is haunted by paternal imperatives. There are memories of his own dead father, the reproaches of older citizens living in a dream of Davidovs, and the interrogations of a court of law where Jonas is being sued for breach of contract. He drifts disconsolately among a restless group of cafe intellectuals and eventually proclaims his independence from ""the tyranny of saints. . . ."" At the close, an interview with Davidov's widow provides a bitter footnote to the book that will never be written. Intense, somewhat shrill -- Raskolnikov in Haifa.