- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (November 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 015603252X
- ISBN-13: 978-0156032520
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.4 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Tale of Love and Darkness Paperback – November 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This memoir/family history brims over with riches: metaphors and poetry, drama and comedy, failure and success, unhappy marriages and a wealth of idiosyncratic characters. Some are lions of the Zionist movement—David Ben-Gurion (before whom a young Oz made a terrifying command appearance), novelist S.Y. Agnon, poet Saul Tchernikhovsky—others just neighbors and family friends, all painted lovingly and with humor. Though set mostly during the author's childhood in Jerusalem of the 1940s and '50s, the tale is epic in scope, following his ancestors back to Odessa and to Rovno in 19th-century Ukraine, and describing the anti-Semitism and Zionist passions that drove them with their families to Palestine in the early 1930s. In a rough, dusty, lower-middle-class suburb of Jerusalem, both of Oz's parents found mainly disappointment: his father, a scholar, failed to attain the academic distinction of his uncle, the noted historian Joseph Klausner. Oz's beautiful, tender mother, after a long depresson, committed suicide when Oz (born in 1939) was 12. By the age of 14, Oz was ready to flee his book-crammed, dreary, claustrophobic flat for the freedom and outdoor life of Kibbutz Hulda. Oz's personal trajectory is set against the background of an embattled Palestine during WWII, the jubilation after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state, the violence and deprivations of Israel's war of independence and the months-long Arab siege of Jerusalem. This is a powerful, nimbly constructed saga of a man, a family and a nation forged in the crucible of a difficult, painful history.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
An international novelist of stature, Oz makes an assured leap to autobiography and is greeted with reverence and awe. Aware of the universality of his story, he enlists excerpts from the diaries of friends and relatives to provide a broader context. He also forgoes tying his narrative to a strict timeline, opting instead for a circular approach. Settings and characters bear the vibrant imprint of his descriptive skills. For all the praise, a few devils advocates lurk out thereDavid Cesarini of The Independent calls the prose "dense almost liturgical"but even he concedes that its an impressive piece of work. It is rare for a fiction writers life to be more dramatic than his novels, but such is the case with Oz.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Amos grew up a solitary child, encouraged to entertain himself while his parents worked. Always a writer at heart, he believed that "it was not enough for me to be intelligent, rational, good, sensitive, creative." He often felt he was a "one-child show...a non-stop performance," always on display to the relatives, his accomplishments never seeming to be enough.
In this elaborate, non-linear autobiography, Oz and his family are seen as archetypal immigrants to Jerusalem, people who arrived when the land was still under British rule and who helped create a new homeland, arguing ferociously about the direction the country should take and the leaders who should lead it. The history of Jerusalem combines with the author's own genealogical records and his memories about his early family life to create a broad picture of the society in which he grew up and in which his writing talent took root.
Detailed, highly descriptive, and filled with introspection about his unusual life, the book shows the tensions within the society and within his family. After his mother's suicide when he was twelve, he broke with his father, joined a kibbutz, and, at fifteen changed his name. His observations about himself in relation to his peers and in relation to the outside world, even at that young age, show his inner turmoil and determination to discover a personal identity.
As the book moves back and forth in time, the author comments about his writing, the people who influenced him, and his "pickpocketing," his "stealing" of the lives of real people in order to invent stories about them. His observations about Israel, its leaders, its never-ending wars with the Arabs, and his experience as a resident of a kibbutz for more than thirty years broaden the scope and provide insight into one man's life in this developing country. Obviously a huge achievement for Oz personally, this is also a huge contribution to the understanding of the growth of a Jewish homeland and to an understanding of how Oz became the writer he is. Much more detailed and leisurely than Oz's novels, this is slow but satisfying reading for those who admire his novels. Mary Whipple
As others have said better than I: It's a history of Palestine (pre-Israel), the autobiography of a writer, the way that European Jews experienced lower class/lower middle class life Palestine in the late 30's, early 40's, and all the myriad influences and people that created the great Amos Oz, who is surprisingly modest throughout. REALLY modest.
Yes, as others have said, Oz is my favorite author. BUT, no one should imagine that this will be an easy read, because it is not. It isn't written to excite;is not plot-driven but meditative and far-ranging, as well as non-linear. It differs from Oz' other work, both novels and non-fiction, in that way. It is a long march and the reader must do some hard work to keep up with chronology and mostly to keep one's interest going.
Do not buy this because of a few sensationalist views. Buy this, and yes, I too believe it is a MASTERPIECE, truly AMAZING-- if you are interested in: writing, Israel, Kibbutz life, in exile and hope, in situational despair, in character portraits, and in Oz himself.
His mother's death IS utterly wrenching but hardly the main story and his father comes to life through Oz' genius, as well as his unhappy O how unhappy mom. Also, beware that because he meanders hither and yon, when her death happens it hurts, man o does it! During the second section and esp on the last pages I was sobbing, as her life's end is overwhelmingly sad. But whoever I first read claiming this is the story of his mother, I believe was wrong. It is a HUGE travel and the reader needs energy to keep going, to keep interested until at some point, one is simply hooked.
I recommend this book highly but for experienced readers only, not looking for a quick fix, nor a page turner. For those who want a panoramtic and highly detailed tale, yes buy this and work it. I'm so glad Amos Oz dared to write a book so different from his other ones as he is a private man, a great one, and he got so much right here. Dig in and don't expect to love it all, not at the beginning. I remember almost every vignette now but it took three tries to get 'in'.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I liked reading about the strong literary history of Mr. Oz