Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Appelfeld Pattern

There is a pattern to Aharon Appelfeld’s fiction that is apparent after reading at least three of his works.   Of course, the Holocaust looms large in his books, but even when the theme of the book is not explicitly about the Holocaust, ideas of dislocation and uncertainty hang in the air.

This is certainly the case with his novel Laish.  The main character, Laish, wanders with a band of pilgrims on their way from Eastern Europe to Jerusalem.  Their trip is anything but completely sacred, and Appelfeld takes us through various episodes where human beings expose the very worst of their behavior and motives.

Movement to an uncertain end is part of the Appelfeld pattern.  His experiences on the run from the Nazis as a boy, and afterward as  DP, have set this pattern for him, and he relives it in each of his works of fiction.  The little boy is still not comfortable staying in one place.   

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