PUBLIC RITUALS: GRASPING MYTH IN DAVID GROSSMAN’S TO THE END OF THE LAND
The article investigates David Grossman’s To the End of the Land as an intervention into debates on the presence of myth in Israeli society. Do resonances of the Bible in Modern Hebrew perpetuate biblical narratives as constitutive to Israeli collective memory? Do literary references to the Bible dictate the rootedness of Hebrew speakers to the Land? Grossman’s novel discerns the implications of these questions for the political agency of individuals. It does so through the striking adaptation of a motif much frequented in Israeli literature: the Binding of Isaac. The prominent biblical myth is transformed in the novel through a set of interplays: the unusual enactment of the Akedah scene by a matriarch; original exegeses of biblical names; and the merging of several biblical narratives into the novel’s structure. The protagonists reveal their “awareness” of these interplays, when they reflect on the correspondence of their “lives” with various biblical narratives – whose divergence from one another enable them to negotiate the overdetermination of myth in political discourse. The article argues that the novel’s reflective stance on the role of myth in Israeli society is codependent on the philosophy of language that it develops. To the End of the Land features language acquisition, linguistic interferences with Israel’s main vernacular by other languages, word play and semiotic collapse. Through the presentation of linguistic utterances as contingent, associative, subjective and ever-changing, the identification with biblical narratives is rendered volatile. To the End of the Land questions the limits of Israeli literature in redefining the valence of the language in which it is written as well as the ability of literary texts to reshape major conditions for their own reception: collective memory and national motifs.
Ancient Greece. Greek religion: Archaic and Classical, trans. John Raffan, Blackwell, Oxford, 1985.
Bal Mieke, Lethal Love: Feminist Literary Readings of Biblical Love Stories Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1987.
Bialik Hayyim Nahman, Yehoshua Hana Rawnitzki, and Yohanan Pograbinski, The Book of Legends, Dvir, Tel Aviv, 1987 .
Cutter William, Ghostly Hebrew, Ghastly Speech: Scholem to Rosenzweig, 1926, Prooftexts, Vol. 10, No. 3, 1990.
Feldman Yael S., Glory and Agony: Isaac’s Sacrifice and National Narrative, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2010
Feldman Yael S., Isaac or Oedipus? Jewish Tradition and the Israeli Akedah, in: Biblical Studies/ Cultural Studies, eds. Cheryl Exum & Stephen Moore, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, 1998.
Feldman Yael S., Postcolonial Memory, Postmodern Intertextuality: Anton Shammas’s ARABESQUES Revisited, Publication of Modern Language Association, Vol. 114, No. 3, 1999.
Feldman Yael S., Whose Sacrifice is this Anyway? Mikan , Vol. 9, 2008.
Feldman Yael S., With our own Hands, `ton 77, Vol. 312-313, 2006.
Gil Anidjar, Semites: Race, Religion, Literature Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2008.
Ginsberg Ruth, Grossman’s Pre-Trauma Picaresque, Mikan, vol. 13, 2014. [Hebrew].
Golomb Hoffman Anne, Trauma and Nachträglichkeit in Grossman’s To the End of the Land, Narrative, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2012.
Grossman David, A Woman Flees Tidings, Hakibbutz HaMeuchad, Bnei Brak, 2008. [Hebrew].
Grossman David, To the End of the Land, Teorya Ubikoret, 2011. [Hebrew].
Kartun-Blum Rut, Profane Scriptures: Reflections on the Dialogue with Bible in Modern Hebrew Poetry, Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, OH, 1999.
Kartun-Blum Rut, Where are those Woods in my Hand From? Moznaim, Vol. 62, 1988-1989.
Lipsker Avidav, Mine Work, Alpayim, Vol. 33, 2008.
Lital Levy, Poetic Trespass: Writing between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel/Palestine, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2014.
Luz Ehud, Parallels Meet: Religion and Nationalism in the Early Zionist Movement in Eastern Europe (1882-1904), `Am `oved, Tel Aviv, 1985.
Milman Yosef, Remember What Your Father Has Done, The Akedah and the Reproach, Zvi Luz (ed.), Magnes, Jerusalem, 1991.Milner Iris, Sacrifice and Redemption in To the End of the Land, Hebrew Studies, Vol. 54, 2013.
Orr Mary, Intertextuality: Debates and Contexts, Polity, Cambridge, 2003.
Raz-Krakotzkin Amnon, Theory and Criticism, Vol. 20, 2002.
Sagi Avi, The Meaning of the Akedah in Israeli Culture and Jewish Tradition, Israel Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1998.
Shaked Malka, I’ll Play You Forever: The Bible in Modern Hebrew Poetry, Yedi`ot ‘Aharonot-Hemed, Tel- Aviv, 2005.
Shamir Ziva, The Present is the Future’s Past: the Ideological Theory of Relativity of A.B Yehoshua According to Mr. Mani, in: In the Opposite Direction: Articles on Mr. Mani by A.B Yehoshua, Nitza Ben-Dov (ed.), Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 1995. [Hebrew]
Shapira Anita, The Bible and Israeli Identity, AJS Review, Vol. 28, No. 1, 2004.
Stanley Burnshaw, T. Carmi, and Ezra Spicehandler, The Modern Hebrew Poem Itself: from the Beginnings to the Present: Sixty-Nine Poems in a New Presentation, Harvard University Press, London, 1989.
Weiss Hillel, Notes on the Examination of the Binding of Isaac in Contemporary Israeli Literature as a Topus, Theme and Motif, The Akedah and the Reproach, Zvi Luz (ed.), Magnes, Jerusalem, 1991.
Yildiz Yasemin, Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition, Fordham University Press, New York, 2012.
Copyright (c) 2016 Yael Almog
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.