Scenes from Village Life

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Scenes from village life by Amos Oz 07 September Category: Contemporary Fiction.

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A teenage son shoots himself under his parents' bed. They sleep that night unaware he is lying dead beneath them. A stranger turns up at a man's door to persude him that they must get rid of his ageing mother in order to sell the house. An old man grumbles to his daughter about the unexplained digging and banging he hears under the house at night. As each story unfolds, Amos Oz, builds a portrait of a village in Israel.


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It is a surreal and unsettling place. Each villager is searching for something, and behind each episode is another, hidden story. In this powerful, hynotic work Amos Oz peers into the darkness of our lives and gives us a glimpse of what goes on beneath the surface of everyday existence. There are few marriages, or even healthy intimate relationships. Instead, Oz writes of strange familial relationships rising from odd circumstances.


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An aunt loves her nephew, like a son, but in a strangling manner. A son loves his mother with the neurotic zeal of a dependent soul, and a father loves his daughter with the pathetic devotion of a fallen giant clinging to a glimpse of his once greatness.

Сцены из русской деревенской жизни / Scenes from Russian village life 1867-1914

In these eight short stories, characters appear, unannounced, threatening ominous actions without resolution, while other disappear or leave. Loss permeates these stories, but loss without explanation or redemption. The city dwindles as it bleeds its citizens, destroys its buildings, and just falls into the malaise of decay.

Scenes from Village Life | Jewish Book Council

A haunting sense of uncertainty permeates the stories, uncertainty about purpose, about role, and about values previously held dear. History falls apart. Trust in others withers away. Loneliness reigns supreme.

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At the same time that Oz describes the land the way a lover describes his beloved, the connection to the beloved grows ever more tenuous with each word. Oz writes from a generation dying out, a generation finding it increasingly hard to connect to the next generation or to themselves.

This theme emerges most explicitly in the penultimate story, Singing. Here, a group of people weaned on Zionist songs and values, gather together in what I imagine a Camp Massad reunion looks like to sing away the pain and conflict, amongst like-minded peers.

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Scenes from Village Life

The only young person mentioned in the story is the dead son of the hosts, a 17 year old boy who shot himself under his parents bed. In fact, few young people appear in the book. In an attempt to keep up, or to hide from memories, the town attempts to renovate itself with new cultural markers.


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In a Freudian sense, the town tries to paint over its scars, wounds, and bullet-holes.