LILO'S DIARY by Richard M. Elman


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In The 28th Day of Elul (1967) the author, through the character of Alex Yagodah, a Hungarian Jew, investigated the agony of a ""survivor's"" search backward for the ethic of guilt and loss; this is the diary of Lilo, Alex's fiancee, the sacrificial victim. Under the guardianship of her uncle by marriage, Newman Yagodah, father of Alex, Lilo muses about her lack of response to Alex, exults at times in a determined coldness which paradoxically ""frees"" her to herself. Alex is a charming coward; his father strong, but ""I also fear the strong-willed."" While insidious hints of the Nazi horrors to come stir at the windows, Lilo is brutally raped by the son of a dispossessed Hungarian peasant, Miklos, with Alex standing helplessly by (a scene in the earlier book). Lilo, in her shock and struggles to understand, turns to Newman, eternally, silently at work at a desk full of papers. When the Yagodah family is suddenly sent to concentration camps, presumably, Lilo is left behind, given as mistress to Miklos in exchange for favors. Lilo's insanity and decay, ending with the pitiful remnants of the possibilities of love without calculation, coincides with the ""liberation"" of Hungary, in which Lilo will again be used--this time as safe passage. ""We cared so much about hurting each other's feelings that we were betrayers and murderers,"" cries out Lilo at the close--an indictment of a soulless expediency. A terrible recitative, which pleads for the integrity of feeling and commitment.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Scribners