Vol. 17 No. 1 1950 - page 98

The odd conjunction of trivial and profound is Koestler's own mixture.
He is confronted, in frustrated annoyance, with the
fait accompli
of Hebrew as a national language. The very medium of discourse em–
bodies day by day the carefully kept heritage of the Jews and threatens
always to betray them to the backward superstitions of the Scriptures
written in that tongue. On the subject of the un-modernity of Hebrew,
its unwieldiness, the impossibility of learning to read it when written
without vowels (Koestler, at any rate, has never succeeded in doing so),
he delivers himself with some fever and touching linguistic naivete. At
least, he insists, the ancient tongue should be written in Roman letters–
and with this demand for alphabet reform, he tells us, he has scandalized
the Rotary Club of Tel Aviv.
Oddly enough, this demand is one of the links between Koestler and
Jabotinsky, and a clue to his over-estimation of the man and the Revision–
ist movement in general. There is in Koestler a love of violence (he is by
all odds the best living exponent of the atrocity story), in part tempera–
mental, and in part the product of conditioning in the Marxist movement
with its vision of force as the orgasm of history. But quite aside from any
commitment to violence, Koestler found, or thought he found in Jab–
otinsky alone among the Zionists a profound Western orientation. And
so, despite parenthetical admissions of the strong anti-labor bias and
the almost hysterical chauvinism of the Revisionists, he is prepared to
claim their leading figure as more nearly a "great Nineteenth Century
Liberal" than a "Fascist."
The flight from Jewishness arises compulsively out of the historical
surfaces of Koestler's chronicle, distorting and finally consuming the
theme of the Fulfilment of the Promise. The conventional methods of the
journalist, by which only what is under the eye of the observer is made
to seem important, until at last history seems to dance attendance on the
purveyor of headlines, come aptly to hand. And at last the Covenant and
the Exile, the struggle for the Land and the Return, shrink from events
in a dim history on the margin of the actual and the mythical, to the
context of an autobiography and an
Leslie A. Fiedler
...................................................................... I
1...,88,89,90,91,92,93,94,95,96,97 99,100
Powered by FlippingBook