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Tragic comic and utterly honest A Tale of Love and Darkness is at once a family saga and a magical self portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent historyIt is the story of a boy growing up in the war torn Jerusalem of the forties and fifties in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many The story of an adolescent whose life has been changed forever by his mother's suicide when he was twelve years old The story of a man who leaves the constraints of his family and its community of dreamers scholars and failed businessmen to join a kibbutz change his name marry have children The story of a writer who becomes an active participant in the political life of his nationback cover


10 thoughts on “סיפור על אהבה וחושך

  1. says:

    By far the best book that I've read this yearIt is a long one but worth all the time I spent on it It is a memoir that begins with Amos Oz born 1939 birth in Israel and ends with the death of his father His mother died twenty years earlier than that and in between those two deaths he did not hear from his father anything about his mother; as if his mother did not exist This novel can be appreciated on three layers from the macro perspective it is a tale of Israel as a nation from the exodus of the East European Jews from the 18th to the 20th century to the War of Independence; from the Oz family's perspective the migration of their well educated family from Russia to Israel armed only with what they know as intellectuals facing difficult times migrating from one country to another before settling in Israel; and lastly from the internal perspective of what Oz has to go through accepting the sad truth behind the death of his mother and his father trying to forget the whole thing This is my first Oz and I am just impressed He writes beautifully I was not able to relate to him as he is almost unreachable considering his background his parents were both professors and in their house they talked about all those literary greats from Tolstoy Dostoevsky Freud etc and his father used to purchase hardbound books with silver or golden linings so that the Oz had a boyhood dream not of becoming an author when he grew up but by becoming a book If you also want to know about the history of Israel go for this book It is almost the same experience I had reading Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children 4 stars for Indian history or Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche's Half of a Yellow Sun 4 stars for Nigerian history You see I am fond of reading history and memoirs and having a book with both is simply my cup of teaOz writes like a wizard He puts magic on the pages of his book


  2. says:

    There are books which after you've read them would give you this silent thought either that you could have written them yourself or maybe you could write something like them too someday Then there are those books which would have the opposite effect similar to what happened to Virginia Woolf after reading Marcel Proust's Swann's Way the first book of In Search of Lost Time her literary urges were paralyzed Well Woolf wrote a friend what remains to be written after that? I'm only in the first volume and there are I suppose faults to be found but I am in a state of amazement; as if a miracle were being done before my eyesThis one by Amos Oz could give you the same literary or writing paralysis Published by Vintage books curiously under the category fiction he tells us here of his life in Jerusalem during his childhood and adolescence in the 1940s to 1950s when the Jewish state of Israel was in its infancy It was a life surrounded by books by voracious readers scholars marvelous storytellers poets and prolific writers His father could read in 16 or 17 languages and speak 11; his mother spoke 4 or 5 languages and read 7 or 8 She read Maupassant Chekhov Tolstoy Balsac Flaubert Dickens Thomas Mann Knut Hamsun Kleist Moravia Hesse Mauriac Turgenev Maugham Zweig among many others His father had published his own books and they father and son had uarrels not about allowances or teenage vices but about Franz Kafka Amos Oz freuented the house of Samuel Yosef Agnon for whom his father did some translations Agnon much later on would win the Nobel Prize for Literature and had interactions with him as a child and later as an adult At one time when he was just a small boy his ambition was to become a book Not an author or a famous writer but a bookI could never claim to have even of a semblance of a life like that When I was about 9 years old my father brought home maybe accidentally first Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and later Twain's Tom Sawyer Both I read with delight in that reverse order Tom Sawyer was supposed to come ahead of Huck Finn But that was all for me insofar as the classics were concerned I only got to see good books again when I went to college some 6 or 7 years laterWhy is this such a pleasure to read? One could discuss techniue or the author's imagination or the tremendous research done but my answer is simply this having been exposed to books all his life Amos Oz knew the good reads from the bad reads so when he wrote his books he knew how to make them captivating ones He knew how to make his readers hooked to make them turn one page after another and how to make occasional explosions of surprisesOne of these surprises I shall partly reveal Amos Oz also had this literary paralysis and this he got after reading Hemingway he read For Whom the Bell Tolls 4 or 5 times and Erich Maria Remarue But he got past this paralysis his writing hand was freed by what else another book Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson which he read in the Hebrew translation by Aharon AmirRead and find out why and how


  3. says:

    A Tale of Love Darkness by Amos Oz is a most extraordinary book an exceedingly personal insightful account of a life that began when Palestine was a British mandated territory with the author coming of age as Israel was born It is a story that vastly transcends the label of autobiography and which manages to encapsulate the extreme complexity of the author's life and the initial 50 years in the life of the state of Israel I read this book while preparing for a study tour to Israel the Palestinian Territories that included time spent amidst Jewish Christian Muslim people but also those who are Druze Samaritan Baha'i and it served well to buttress the many wonderful and occasional sad perplexing experiences in the area still often referred to as The Holy Land Oz embraces an amazing sensitivity and objectivity when confronted with the diversity of people cultures languages spiritual beliefs within IsraelPalestine Beyond that Amos Oz displays a near reverence for books of all kinds and this serves to make his story even compelling Looking back to his youth Oz begins his tale in this mannerI wandered dizzily through virtual forests of words huts of words meadows of words The reality of words thrust aside the suffocating backyards the corrugated iron spread atop stone houses balconies laden with washtubs washing lines What surrounded me did not count All that counted was made of words I ran away sought refuge in the fortress of sanity of books of mystery adventure battle Jules Verne James Feni Cooper Sherlock Holmes The Three Musketeers The Prisoner of Zenda Treasure Island The Last of the Mohicans The Count of Monte Cristo the darkest recesses of Africa grenadiers Indians wrongdoers cavalry men cattle thieves cowboys pirates archipelagos hordes of bloodthirsty natives in feathers war paint blood chilling battle cries magical spells knights of the dragon Saracen horsemen with curved scimitars monsters wizards emperors bad guys hauntings and especially stories about pale little adolescents who are destined for great things when they have managed to overcome their own wretchedness I wanted to be like them to be able to write like the people who wrote them Perhaps I did not make a distinction between writing winningWhat one encounters in A Tale of Love Darkness is a 538 page story of an author who succeeded with his youthful ambition and who on every page uses words to full advantage in recounting his own life storyAmos Oz details the emotional difficulties not only in coming of age as Israel is reborn in the midst of tension gunfire ethnic displacement but also within a family where the members do not relate well to each other with an intellectual emotionally distant father and particularly owing to his mother's apparent mental instabilityFather I were like a pair of stretcher bearers carrying an injured person up a steep slope I was like an upside down Jesus born of a virgin man by an invisible spirit and we were like 3 prisoners sharing the same cellThe author goes on to compare his mother who committed suicide when Oz was 12 to the terrifying mad woman in Jane Eyre In time Oz flees to a kibbutz where he lives for 30 years but not before symbolically slaying his father by changing his surname from Klausner to Oz Hebrew for strength The book is full of surprises and this is just one of many The author mentions that when his secular father fled to Palestine in 1935 he was poor having once been rich returned to the proletariat was thus rejuvenated Meanwhile his mother was an exile from Rovno then in Poland once a part of the Austro Hungarian Empire now a part of the Ukraine a place with a long history of anti Semitism later captured by the USSR and then invaded by the Nazis who uickly murdered 25000 Jews than have been killed by Arabs in 100 years After his parents emigrated to Palestine soon to become Israel the author mentions that people said that even now the mobs are sharpening their knives for us in the dark but it was never mentioned just who they were because it could be any of them Anti Semitism seemed to be almost everywhere but Oz also is confronted with the realization that even here in Israel it turns out Jewish mobs can be a bit of a monsterWhile not a conventional autobiography A Tale of Love Darkness represents an extended search for identity One of my favorite passages is when a young Amos Oz asks his aunt to explain just who Jesus was Her lips uivered as she replied hesitantly that he was still alive that he loved us all particularly those who mocked him and if we filled our hearts with love he would come dwell within our hearts bringing suffering but also great happiness and the happiness would shine forth out of the suffering Oz indicates that these words seemed so full of apparent contradictions that his father next took him by the hand to a mattress in the kitchen of their small home his Uncle Joseph's refuge asking the famous author of Jesus of Nazareth who what Jesus was With his glasses perched on his forehead looking exhausted his uncle responded very differently than his aunt Jesus of Nazareth was one of the greatest Jews of all time a wonderful moralist who loathed the uncircumcised of heart fought to return Judaism to its original simplicity wrest it from the power of the hair splitting rabbis The answers caused the young future author to grapple with the seeming discrepancies of the two explanations especially since he was not able to envision the uncircumcised of heart had never met a hair splitting rabbi A Tale of Love Darkness is filled with wonderfully imaginative and memorable prose an example being when Oz compares the hopeful message in Mysterious Island by Jules Verne with William Golding's later pessimistic tale Lord of the Flies two tales conceptually similar but with very different outcomes And here is the author's take on meeting David Ben Gurion He was a visionary peasant almost biblical in his simplicity an honest cruel man and a primeval Jewish spirit This is a book I pick up every so often to delve anew into passages I have found particularly uplifting It was translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange Amos Oz presently holds the Agnon Chair of Literature at Ben Gurion University I've not yet read any of the author's works of fiction but have thoroughly enjoyed several of his other non fiction books especially including Jews Words written together with his daughter Fania Oz Salzberger


  4. says:

    This is one book which I absolutely loved It's a coming of age tale of the author and his countryI had hopes of writing a detailed review; had underlined so many passages made copious notes and even made a rough outline But then I find that I cannot do it Some books are like that for me too complex and rich to be analysedAmos Oz narrates the tale of his dysfunctional family; his proud and egoistic father and his disturbed and sensitive mother and himself as the shy and gifted youngster growing up amidst the turmoil His country is also dysfunctional with its Jewish heart and Arab body; two races ? fated to live together permanently at war Oz weaves these two narrative strands seamlessly and we get a magical tale composed of eual parts of love and darkness are they that much different?This book gave me much insight into what Israel was than the over hyped ones like Exodus


  5. says:

    A moving intense memoir of the life of this prolific Israel author tells of life in the Land of Israel from the 1930s until the early 1950s The author manages to juggle humor and sadness in a book which does bring to life the Israel of that time It is circular in nature and not chronological and dwells also on life in Europe for Jews before the re establishment of the Jewish State The two problems with the book are the amount of detail can become monotonous and boring and that Oz sometimes tries too hard to be iconoclastic and cynical leading simply to a certain putridity Though my own politics differs from Oz leftwing yes still humane political though and that may account for part of my irritationThe author describes his grandmother's obsession that the Levant is filled with germs and her immaculate obsession with cleanliness as a result Oz describes his early childhood with a clear and penetrating memory and end in his mother's suicide at 38 in the early 1950s with Oz describing her depression and his pain and psychological exploration of her suicide He describes his intellectual but frustrated father and the stifling book filled flat in Jerusalem from which he escapes to the animating Kibbutz Hulda at the age of 15 The author describes the situation of Israel in the last years of the British Mandate of Palestine and provides interesting history of the birth of Israel From the Holy Land during the Second world war when the Jewish yishuv community of Israel feared the Holocaust coming to the Holy Land at a time when the Nazis looked like they had the Palestine mandate strangled by their control of the Caucuses in the north and their advance in North Africa on the other frontier At this time Haifa and Tel Aviv as the auhtor mentions were bombed by Italian planes The gripping elation and fear at the vote in the Untied Nations at the end of 1947 in which the partition of Palestine was agreed to the coming of the painful War of Independence and the shortages incurred therein the atrocities of the war such as the burning alive by Arabs of 50 nurses and doctors on the road to Jerusalem and the killing of dozens of Jews in Jerusalem during a terrorist bombing by pro Arab British Army deserters calling itself the British Fascist Army The author describes his first sexual infatuation with a schoolteacher in her 30s named Zelda and this too is described in immaculate detail Overall a great contribution to Israeli literature and thought


  6. says:

    This memoir recounts the author's life in the formative years of the nation of Israel as well as the years leading up to 1948 as well as the lives of his parents and many relatives from various parts of Europe It's not only the memoir of a child who grew to become a writer and needs to tell of the terrors and memories of his childhood It's also a memoir of the young state peopled by so many from all over who had lost everything and were desperately trying to build a permanent Jewish home No place in the world wanted them so this must be the placeIt is not an easy read but it is definitely worthwhile There is much to learn here and so many viewpoints I have the feeling in the end that this was a task that Oz had to do to finally lay the past to rest


  7. says:

    OK the book is completed and I am having difficulty choosing between 4 or 5 stars so I guess I will choose 4 It is best to save 5 stars for those books that you are sure must get 5 Otherwise 5 stars doesn't mean much There is a lot to think about in this book That is why I like the book It seems to me a very Jewish trait to analyze discuss and argue about everything I like that Nevertheless in this family there were some things that were NEVER discussed Issues that should have been discussed but they were just so painful nothing could be said After his mother died Amos and his father NEVER discussed the motherwife Not a word So that which really must be discussed couldn't be discussed All I can say is hmmm Really not that surprising if one thinks of it The deep emotions that tied the family members the mother father and son were wonderfully depicted in an honest and sometimes brutal but also loving manner I appreciated the honesty That is why I liked the book What else did I like? I liked how the people were real people They did really stupid crazy stuff Lectures given in locked bathrooms Grandmothers lecturing grandfathers to grow up behave as an adult should and not set a bad example for the children Usually it was the adults who were so childish but isn't that true to life? Who says grown ups follow the rules act properly or set a proper example The characters where in other words true to life I think Aren't we all just fumbling along And any given person is both wonderful and terrible Again a characteristic true to life I would say that the book is primarily about relationships within a family OK this family but probably many others too Please check out the comments noted as I progressed through the book I liked this bookauthor so much that I think I will immediately try another by the author a novel entitled Panther in the Basement I want to see if a novel holds up as well as this memoirOn page 167 of the Harvest publication of this book The binding and uality of this paperback is really MUCH better than the Vintage Book I was previously reading Immediately I realize what marvelous company I am keeping with the individuals in this family Take this uote on page 162 Do you know what the main thing is the thing a woman should look for in her man? She should look for a uality that's not at all exciting but that's rarer than gold decency And maybe kindness too Today you should know this I rate decency highly than kindness Decency is the bread kindness is the butter Or the honey I have personally always valued kindness put it up there on a pedestal but I love the analogy of decency and kindness compared to bread and butterhoney It says it all other lines are terribly amusing Once it may have been in the winter at Hanukkah we had a huge argument that lasted off and on for several weeks about heredity versus free will I remember as if it were yesterday how your mother came out with this strange sentence that if you open up someone's head and take out the brains you see at once that our brains are nothing but cauliflower Even Chopin or Shakespeare their brains were nothing but cauliflower And then his Mom the same person also expressed the idea that heredity and the environment that nurtures us and our social class these are all like cards that are dealt out at random before the game begins There is no freedom about this the world gives and you just take what you're given with no opportunity to choose But she wrote to me from Prague the suestion is what each person does with the cards that are dealt out to him Some people play brilliantly with poor cards and other do the opposite they suander and loose everything even with excellent cards This Jewish family with roots in Russia their arguments philosophical meanderings goals and idiosyncrasies make a delightful read The On page 110 There are gems of truth to be found in this book I think many women will agree with the following observationWhat was the secret of Grandpa's charm? I only began to understand years later He possessed a uality that is hardly ever found among men a marvellous uality which for many women is the sexiest in a man He listened He did not just politely pretend to listen while Some men really listen and some men look in the eyes of a woman The point is women like it when the man in some way really connects Really cares enough to pay attention We like this Right?Still only on page 22 but I know this will be another book and author to love It is all in the writing that is why I always try and read a bit of a book before I buy it The problem is that the authors know that too and can provide us with only the best in the first few pagesThe one thing we had plenty of was booksWhen I was little my ambition was to grow up to be a book Not a writer People can be killed like ants Writers are not hard to kill either But not books; however systematically you try to destroy them there is always a chance that a copy will survive and continue to enjoy a shelf life in some corner of an out of the way library somewhere in Reykjavik Valladolid or Vancouver I enjoy the expression of how a book enjoys a shelf life I enjoy the random choice of cities where the book just might be found I enjoy the serious aspect of a child of six realizing how uickly a human can be wiped off the face of the earth juxtaposed to the humor inherent in the wordsI love how it is so embedded in Jewish culture to discusses ANY topic from all sides Here was another typical dilemma should on or should one not send flowers for a birthday? And if so what flowers? Gladioli were very expensive but they were cultured aristocratic sensitive flowers not some sort of half wild I find this terribly amusing but to see the real humor you have to read


  8. says:

    It is a crime to try to rush through this richly textured memoir you have to slow down you have to savour it and let its images sink in you have to see through the eyes of the alien only child that was Amos Oz the strange melange of old world jews bickering and conjuring up an extraordinary new yet ancient country ripping it out of an existing land dreams centuries old and a great many nightmares of the first half of the twentieth century It is excruciatingly and painfully honest binding love and darkness so closely together that it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends and whether any of two ever stop hurtingSlowly hesitantly and masterfully Amos Oz starts following the central thread of his life circling around the tragic core of his childhood We read an amazing story of self laceration as Amos Oz is determined to leave no stone unturned in punishing himself through his own disturbing memories of himself as an akward child a dreamer living between two heart wrenching worlds utterly beyond his comprehension the rational but disappointing world of his father and the strange shadowy world of his mother A haunting memoir of an imaginative and sensitive child desperately striving to live his childhood in an impossible place at the wrong time reaching for love he could never be uite sure of deserving or attaining


  9. says:

    Although I think the book would have benefited from some tightening particularly in the last uarter A Tale of Love and Darkness is a masterpiece


  10. says:

    Justice without compassion isn't justice; it's an abattoirReading A Tale of Love and Darkness is like watching tiny green shoots pop up from loamy soil You watch them grow with anticipation only to see them wither and then shoot up again to reach new heights They mature falter again and then finally ripen in old ageIn this spellbinding memoir Amos Oz is one of those little shoots growing up in the nourishing soil of books intellectual conversation and impromptu storytelling At the same time his father's disappointment and dissatisfaction the oppressive legacy of his family's long histories of persecution in Europe and their paradoxical longing for that bygone age of cultured refinement and his mother's crippling depression suppress him But he rises again after every wilting sometimes through concerted effort to erase his past sometimes through latching on to his literary ancestryBorn in 1939 in British Mandatory Palestine Oz has straddled the collapse of an old order and the creation of a new one for the Jewish people His parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe members of the Zionist literati who dreamed of an escape from programs and persecution They would reach the Promised Land where the Jewish people would stand up to their oppressors screaming No When they finally arrived they didn't find the land of their dreams but an impoverished backwater; They found betrayal But after years of surviving of love and loss Israel's independence still brought joy to Oz's parents Oz the product of eternal sadness thought he saw the light for the first time as a 9 year old boy when independence was marked with a scream of horror and bewilderment and a seemingly endless warBut as we all know and as Oz uickly figured out the birth of Israel did not lead to immediate prosperity The evolution of his political views from hard right conservatism to prominent socialist supporter of peace and euality his mother's suicide soon after independence his meeting as a young man with Israel's faux intellectual first leader David Ben Gurion and his decision to change his name to breaks his family's chains to Eastern Europe Oz's early life is the story of the first years of State of Israel warts and all mostly warts His story is Israel's one of promise defeat victory betrayal hypocrisy Oz paints a refreshingly gray and murky picture of the 1940s and 1950s a time when no one Palestinians Israelis or the UN knew what would happen As discussions surrounding Israel have become dogmatically Manichean Oz points out that neither narrative is right and neither is wrong They're just two powerful sympathetic narratives that capture hearts and minds and never let go Oz weaves a story that avoids both dogma and refuses to impose one definition of reality Each new perspective brings its own understanding of reality its own baggage and collective memory to the present Oz warns us that both life and history are murky The so called age of polarization in which we now live is not new; It's as old as humanityThe most remarkable uality of Oz's writing is his ability to impart endless wisdom without lecturing the reader A Tale of Love and Darkness is a philosophical dialogue that uses a memoir as its framework Sure it's about Oz's childhood and the early days of Israel but it's really about analyzing different perspectives through which we can approach living Like all great writers Oz provides uestions than answers To what extent does memory empower and to what extent does it limit and oppress? Does anyone actually know what they're doing or are we all just making educated guess after educated guess? Who gets to decide what is just? What is true strength and what is weakness masuerading as strength? Oz is wise enough to only venture his own partial answers to these uestionsA Tale of Love and Darkness is an excellent book a handbook for great writing and a paean to literature If you give one long book a try in the near future consider Oz's masterpiece I think you will be just as mesmerized as I was watching all the little green shoots grow falter and grow again