Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Hungarian cantor?

Various commitments all suddenly need input at the same time, nothing can be put off; my brain veers off in several directions, thoughts incoherent, and not a word written since the poem about the Olympics. Today found my cellphone and my watch again. Misplacing them is always a sign.

Read Amos Oz as if meeting him for the first time - Don't call it night (Chatto & Windus, 2004 - Al tagidi laila) only $12,- hardback copy from Quilters' on Lambton Quay - not a second-hand book shop, an Antiquarian bookshop. Heaps of poetry books.


Amos Oz, May 2005

Back to Amos Oz: here's a question - the novel ended too soon for me, so read what was on the next page, curiously, a list of the novel's characters, like in a play, including near the end "Hungarian Cantor".

I can't remember a cantor of any kind in this book- did Oz just pop him in the list to keep things interesting?

Needing to read more Oz, took The Same Sea (Vintage, 2001, Oto HaYam) from my shelf: what I thought of as my copy turns out to belong to a friend.(I feel guilty, but I'll read it again first.)

The format of The Same Sea is different from usual novels: chapters often only a page long or less, prose poems, non-prose poems, lots of work for the reader, satisfying though at times obscure, not to say impossible to understand. ( I'd wish I had a Hebrew version, to read them side by side). The excellent translation by Nicholas de Lange, as usual.

Perceived recurring themes: the impossibility of truly knowing anyone else however close, the great suffering caused by love, and as part of the canvas he paints on, ordinary people grieving losses incurred in the Conflict.

In Don't call it night, he writes a wonderful sentence - about people's obsession with the past and the future, how they shouldn't. I'll re-read that book, find the sentence for posting here, and check about the cantor.

5 comments:

Myrthe said...

Have you found the reference to the Hungarian cantor? I will also check, because you are making me curious!

Suzannah said...

No, not yet, have had to move on to other things, unfortunately. Do let me know what you find...

I hope all the stuff about the page numbers and the quote does not sound mad to a person who may not have been exposed to Jewish Biblical exegesis. Within that context - and Oz has that context as a background - it appears, I think, reasonable../
I remember reading about Anthony Burgess, disconsolate because he'd put some sort of structure he was particularly proud of in one of his books and not one of the reviewers ever spotted it.
I feel it's like a treasure hunt, writers embed things in the text - as if they were winking at you.

Myrthe said...

Suzannah, I found the Hungarian cantor. To say he is really a character in the story is giving him too much credit; he is more like a non-speaking extra in the background. Do you remember the part were Theo is sitting in cafe California on a Friday morning reading the newspaper and he watches the funeral procession of demented Elia, uncle of the pharmacist Schatzberg, pass by? This is were the Hungarian cantor is mentioned.

Suzannah said...

Thank you so much, Myrthe, the itch has been scratched...

silverseason said...

I found the novel both interesting and distancing. I think the two main characters may represent two generations of Israeli life. My comments at http://silverseason.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/amos-oz-dont-call-it-night/.