A Tale of Love and Darkness

Written by Amos Oz
Review by Viviane Crystal

One potent image conveys the essence of Amos Oz’s life and his relationship with Israel, an image presented by the writer Tchernikhowsky: “…fool who had learned how to advance the king’s pawn two squares, and did so without any hesitation, but after that had no idea at all…not even the names of the pieces, or how they moved, or where, or why. Lost.” Brevity cannot adequately convey the richness of this moving memoir by this lyrical Israeli writer/novelist. Three strands, however, clearly encompass Oz’s story. The first concerns the competitive, European intelligentsia populating Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the suburban kibbutz communities of pre-Independence Israel, the second the literary and political giants stressing reason but frequently denying a haunting emotional connection to history and ideas, and third the causes and effects of the emotional illness and eventual suicide of Oz’ mother. Few authors have managed to weave together so seamlessly the past realities of the intellectual, political, and psychological of pre- and post-Independence Israeli life. That immense, thorough feat alone merits this memoir a global readership! Darkness haunts even the most exhilarating experiences. This, the author implies, is the essence of Israel as well as his own. Freedom is indeed costly!