cover image Metaphor & Memory

Metaphor & Memory

Cynthia Ozick. Alfred A. Knopf, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-394-56625-2

In 30 impassioned essays, reviews and orations, Ozick ( Bloodshed ; The Pagan Rabbi ) interprets fiction as a moral battleground. She reads Primo Levi's restrained, lucid testament to Nazi atrocities as a sifting of the criminal imagination and J. M. Coetzee's novelistic portrayal of South Africa as evidence of the hoaxes and self-deceptions of stupidity. She admires Henry James, who is ``more and more our contemporary,'' as well as Chekhov, Cyril Connolly, Italo Calvino, William Gaddis and Saul Bellow. The biblical Book of Ruth, Sholem Aleichem, S. Y. Agnon and Chaim Bialik serve as springboards for her soaring meditations on Jewish identity and culture. Topical pieces broach the problems of translating poetry, American speech patterns, the value of little magazines, postmodernism. Culled from the New York Times Book Review , Partisan Review , New Republic , Harper's and elsewhere, the selections reflect Ozick's interests and commitments. (Apr.)