Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson

David Grossman, Author, Stuart Schoffman, Translator
David Grossman, Author, Stuart Schoffman, Translator , trans. from the Hebrew by Stuart Schoffman. Canongate $18.95 (155p) ISBN 978-1-84195-742-5
Reviewed on: 02/20/2006
Release date: 03/01/2006
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Samson, the biblical strongman whose strength lay in his long hair, has long been viewed as a hero. Before his birth, an angel told his mother that her child would be consecrated to God and save his people. But his is a strange and tragic story. Only in defeat, after his duplicitous lover Delilah cuts off his tresses and hands him over to his enemies, can he fulfill the prophecy and bring down the Philistine temple, killing himself and his captors. Acclaimed Israeli novelist Grossman (The Body ) revisits the story in Canongate's series the Myths. He views Samson as an impulsive, lonely, failed man. Grossman's consideration falls squarely into the Jewish tradition of biblical exegesis, imparting both psychological and literary meaning to the story. His mastery of the Hebrew allows for depths of consideration not available to anyone working with a translation. But his reading of Samson is oddly contradictory: on the one hand, he insists that Samson is a man controlled by outside forces; on the other, that deep psychological needs drive him to self-destructive behavior. In the end, Grossman refuses to entertain the most glaring possibility the myth opens up: that only in his failure can Samson succeed and fulfill his life's mission. (Apr. 18)

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