PASSAGE THROUGH THE RED SEA by Zofia Romanowicz

PASSAGE THROUGH THE RED SEA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It would be quite just to call this odd, repellent little book a strangely powerful novel. The narrator (we are not told her name or anything else which is not absolutely necessary) spent her adolescence in a concentration camp. While there she was kept alive, and also permanently crippled emotionally, by her love for and dependence upon an older girl named Lucile, who was married to Paul, who died in another camp. The narrator loved and still loves Paul, too, in much the same tortured, adolescent way. After their liberation, after Lucile has abandoned her, the narrator takes a rather crass (her opinion of him) lover named Philippe. When the book opens, years later, Lucile is coming halfway around the world in answer to the narrator's desperate letters. Lucile, the narrator's ""salvation"", is quickly attracted by Philippe, her ""doom"". When the narrator murders them both it is ""so that she (Lucile) would cease not being Lucile."" It is a very sick and often moving portrait of a warped soul whose only reality lies in the dead dreams of a childhood ruined by war. The main fault to find is technical: the book is all self-analysis and private symbolism, repetitious to the point of fetishism: the tense drama of the actual events is present by implication only. But after all, that is precisely the narrator's tragic condition.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World