Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Grass and Appelfeld

Guy Dammann provides welcome sensitivity to the discussion of the recent revelation about Günter Grass. While most of us would insist that the author and his (fictional) work are necessarily separate, Dammann suggests Grass is an exception: "the trouble with Grass's case is that ... it is impossible to disentangle his literary from his political legacy [as both are] driven by and intent on driving towards a particular moral and political vision of Germany". Perhaps I have already sensed this, as I've yet to get very far into one Grass novel. I'm not interested in writers who orate rather than narrate.

One writer who does the latter is the Israeli Aharon Appelfeld. Recently Ellis Sharp has been critical of what he calls the blindness of Aharon Appelfeld, specifically to what his nation has done and is doing to Palestine. Evidence for his blindness, however, is not taken from Appelfeld's fiction, hence my recommendation to him to read his great, ruining novel The Age of Wonders. He took the trouble to read it and, before providing a literary assessment (to which I look forward), says:
As far as the Palestinians are concerned [the novel] reinforces rather than modifies my view of Appelfeld, since what I find striking are the parallels between the Jewish experience which he so eloquently represents and the Palestinian experience, making his lack of sympathy or understanding of the victims of the Jewish state all the more striking.
This gives a clue as to why writing is central to Appelfeld's quiet life in Jerusalem. Those who have read A Table for One will be familiar with his innocent need to write - something we might find a little odd, and some even suspiciously naive - but the achievement of that writing is the only reason to remember the author's name and then to read The Age of Wonders, The Healer, The Iron Tracks, For Every Sin ...

1 comment:

  1. So, you're a big fan of Mr. Appelfeld (apple field).

    It was the quince, not that apple that feld us from grace.





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