Somber Lust

The Art of Amos Oz

By Yair Mazor
Translated by Marganit Weinberger-Rotman

Subjects: Israel Studies
Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture
Paperback : 9780791453087, 206 pages, February 2002
Hardcover : 9780791453070, 206 pages, February 2002

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Table of contents


1. Introduction: Mapping Poetics, Documenting Ideology, and Above All, Being Motivated by Love

2. Since the Jackals' Lament Carries the Sound of Yearning: Intertextuality and Deconstruction in "Nomads and Viper"

3. The Father, the Son, and the Blowing of the Ill Wind, or Writing Strindberg from Right to Left

4. The Spy Who May Never Come in from the Cold: A Discussion of To Know a Woman

5. At Last, the Secret Double Agent Takes Off His Gloves and Removes the Mask: A Discussion of A Panther in the Basement

6. Essays Are Sometimes Masked Aesthetics: A Discussion of Under This Blazing Light

7. Some Rest at Last. Tracing a Literary Motif: The Motif of the Picture in A Perfect Peace and Beyond

8. Amos Oz Talk about Amos Oz: "Being I, Plus Being Myself" — An Interview with Hillit Yeshourun



Index of Literary and Critical Works

Index of Authors and Artists

A comprehensive study of Israel’s most internationally celebrated writer.


In Somber Lust, Yair Mazor examines the work of the celebrated Israeli writer Amos Oz. In addition to providing a panoramic, comprehensive study of Oz's work, including his novels, novellas, short stories, and numerous essays on literary, social, and political subjects, Mazor also meticulously documents the evolution of Oz's aesthetic and ideological vision. The book concludes with an extensive interview with Oz himself, in which he offers insights into his own work as well as the creative process in general.

Yair Mazor is Professor of Hebrew and Biblical Literature and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is the author of numerous books, including Pain, Pining, and Pine Trees: Contemporary Hebrew Poetry and A Sense of Structure: Hebrew and Biblical Literature.


"This insightful, comprehensive study probes the inner tension that is the persistent element in all of Oz's writing, both fiction and essays." — CHOICE

"In this impressive book, there is a unity of approach, a thrust combining imagination and scope of a high order with close observation and original analysis. Tools deployed in current literary criticism, such as reader-response theory, notions of feminism, and analysis of rhetoric, are judiciously aligned, all with the single aim of providing an understanding of one of the outstanding bodies of fiction in contemporary Hebrew literature. Mazor serves as a brilliant mentor for the reader in this surging sea." — Leon I. Yudkin, author of Jewish Writing and Identity in the Twentieth Century, in praise of the Hebrew edition

"Mazor analyses Oz's major works and offers brilliant and insightful readings. With authority and clarity he examines themes, motifs, structure, style, and narration, focusing on a sinister, nightmarish strain lurking in the deepest regions of Oz's work. This is an important book suitable for scholars, students, and lovers of literature." — Risa Domb, author of Home Thoughts from Abroad: Distant Visions of Israel in Contemporary Hebrew Fiction

"A penetrating and accessible study of Amos Oz's fiction. Mazor masterfully uncovers the unifying themes of Oz's poetic vision and points at the ensuing cracks in his characters' psyches. By deconstructing and reconstructing the text, Mazor allows the reader to enter the complex world of one of Israel's outstanding authors." — Gila Ramras-Rauch, author of Aharon Appelfeld: The Holocaust and Beyond