Ariel Center for
Policy Research



NATIV  Volume Sixteen   Number 2 (91)  ■  March 2003 ■ Adar II 5763 ■ Ariel Center for Policy Research





Amos Oz: A Story of Love and Darkness

Yosef Oren

Only after fifty years of silence on the subject, did Amos Oz begin to face his life’s pain: being orphaned from his mother, Fania, who committed suicide when he was twelve and a half years old. At first he wrote about it in an implied manner in “That Sea” (1999) and now openly at length in the autobiography Story about Love and Darkness. The name of the book promised a composition built as a diptych, whose first part talks about the love he received from his mother during her life and the second part talks about the darkness that prevailed in his life after her suicide. But instead of being satisfied with the moving, intimate story of the promised diptych, with the description of the way as a child he perceived the relationship between his parents and how he dealt with his mother’s suicide, soon after the tragedy and during the course of the following years, Oz included in the volume five other compositions:

  1. A family tree that amply explores the history of the Klauzner and Mussman families, his parents’ families, with details and descriptions he gathered from relatives and other people’s memoirs.

  2. A satirical composition on his father’s uncle, Prof. Joseph Klauzner, and the family circle, academic and literary, which clustered around him and worshiped him and his nationalistic opinions.

  3. A compilation of independent stories that, had they been assembled from their distribution throughout the autobiography, could have made another volume of fiction. Most outstanding among them are the stories about his experiences as a boy in mandatory Jerusalem and during the War of Independence, the story about Grandma Shulamit’s zealousness for cleanliness and the story about his first sexual experience with a promiscuous woman who was engaged by Kibbutz Hulda as a hired kindergarten teacher.

  4. A volume somewhat slimmer than the former ones with chapters designated to educate readers, especially literary critics among them, how to read literature in general and his works in particular.

  5. Another slim yet clearly political volume, in which Amos Oz relates how he turned from being “a nationalistic boy” in the captivity of the fanatics in his family (Prof. Klauzner, his grandfather Alexander and his father) into one of the distinguished thinkers of the Left in Israeli society. In it, Oz delineated his well-known doctrine, in which Israel is defined as the occupier of Palestinian territories and is exhorted to withdraw to the borders it had until 1967, borders that, as we know, were not respected by Arab countries even before the Six Day War.

In fact, Oz combined in the autobiography five additional books that weakened the intensity of the chapters of the promised central story and eventually produced a volume that contains 600 pages instead of a modest, compact volume of about two hundred pages of the story about love and darkness.

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