Asaf Bartov (ijon) wrote,
Asaf Bartov

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Unto Death: Chronicle of a Crusade / Amos Oz

Embarrassingly, I had never read any of Amos Oz's books until now. The other day, I randomly grabbed a re-issued pocket edition of a 1969 novella by Oz, called Unto Death: Chronicle of a Crusade (עד מוות) to take with me, as I was anticipating waiting in some line that day. I have finished it (it is a mere 70 small pages) last night, and I am quite impressed. Oz's reputation is not unjustified; he crafts words quite beautifully, and his style is good.

It tells of a despondent French nobleman who decides the only thing to do is to go on a crusade to Jerusalem. He sets out with some fellow knights, slaves, and retainers, with neither map nor guidance. The novella depicts their journey across Europe, pillaging, raping, and murdering peasants and Jews along the way, while nightly praying for salvation, and growing increasingly frightened of a curse that they feel is upon them. Oz weaves an effective and engaging interplay of piety and depravity.

I think it affords several allegorical readings, but I haven't had time to formulate an interesting one yet. Do read it, it's excellent. It's been translated into quite a few languages, so those of you who can't read Hebrew are robbed of that excuse, at least.

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