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Leviant, a translator himself, exploits the rich lode of fool's gold at the core of any art which merely transmits another's. The education of Shultish, translator and exponent of the internationally honored Hebrew writer Bar Nun, had prepared him to be ""a sensitive instrument, not a sensitive player."" In Israel after a lengthy stretch teaching in America, Shultish is acutely aware that his potential creative talent has lodged useless during his nearly lifelong devotion to the oeuvre of the Master; yet he cannot resist peering through a haze of possibility. Didn't his penultimate work on Bar Nun appear shortly before the author was awarded the Nobel Prize? Could Shultish have influenced Bar Nun's destiny? Shultish's prime mission in Israel is to record Bar Nun reading an early, popular story, ""The Yemenite Girl."" His wife away, Shultish begins to move into the story of seduction and consummation with Miriam, a twenty-year-old Yemenite beauty. Even better, he is on the brink of writing a Yemenite Girl story himself! The plummet is inevitable, and when it comes Bar Nun--a capriciously malicious old tyrant--plays Shultish like a doomed trout. But after the trauma of the old man's death, the translator is serene even as he reads Bar Nun's cruel fictional portrait of him. ""Here was he and Bar Nun. United. In print. Forever."" Leviant is a compassionate and witty satirist; Shultish and his peers are attractive victims. A delightful, inventive tale, and for cognoscenti, undoubtedly a roman a clef.

Pub Date: March 7th, 1977
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill