UNTO DEATH: Crusade & Late Love by Amos Oz

UNTO DEATH: Crusade & Late Love

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Two novellas by one of Israel's most inventive and agile young writers, in which Oz continues his examination of the nature of evil, specifically within the past and present consciousness of the Jewish people. Crusade is a nightmare journey into the relationship between murderer and victim where the Christian crusaders gradually annihilate themselves as they slaughter Jews on the way to Jerusalem--until the survivors, ""shedding their bodies,"" move on to ""disembodied love."" As in Oz' Touch the Water, Touch the Wind (1973) and the second novella, here Late Love, escape from evil becomes escape from humanity. Thus in the post-holocaust meditative fevers of a skeletal, isolated lecturer who pleads for Soviet Jewry, one of the old man's fantasy solutions to the threat to Israel is to float the nation to outer space and settle a new planet--to ""rebuild a kind of heavenly Jerusalem . . . perfect final peace."" The old man, ""the solitary sailor,"" warns of the coming attack by Russia, writes unsent letters to Dayan, even attempts to communicate with a former friend (""what galaxies separate every man from every other man""). At the close, he imagines himself stationed by the sea with a spyglass where he will be the first to see the Russians when they come, as they surely will. The first story, a danse macabre of tender killings, seems stationary and held--purposely perhaps--like a diminished seventh which will never be resolved; Late Love, on the other hand, is more successful as the reader is led in and out of the old man's apparent paranoia until, like the Israelis who have learned to live with bad dreams which turn out to be real, one is not quite sure where daylight begins. An uneven brace from a sure and continuing talent.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich