THE PALACE OF SHATTERED VESSELS by David Shahar

THE PALACE OF SHATTERED VESSELS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Three chapters from this Israeli writer's News From Jerusalem (1974) reappear here, presumably to shade and highlight the portrait of Gabriel Luria, a kind of scholar gypsy whose charming, dandyish and yet mystic being seems to hover over Jerusalem like a blessing. Off and on Luria is seen on the verandah of his mother's house, observed by the narrator (mainly a boyhood view). And Shahar, a virtuoso who can bring startling new tones to the familiar cliche of ancient Jerusalem ambiance, meanders through other lives, old gossip, remembered voices, and tragic/comic paradox. There's the pharmacist who proposed a scientific methodology for testing God's promises and became a successful dealer in hashish; a librarian turned Christian missionary; two old men, both officials during the British rule, who occupy in turn the red verandah chair; the feverish griefs and thunders of Luria's mother. And there's the story of how he was tortured in Brittany by memories of his gentle grandfather but elated with the message of the stars. Throughout Shahar invites coincidental appearances, anecdotal material of any kind--from murder to shaving procedures, chamber pots to mastication--and he deliberately softens the boundaries between histories so that through ""shattered vessels"" of the dead, the water of life flows on. A tone poem, evanescent with a warming afterglow.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1975
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin