After a silence of almost 30 years since his Stories of a Plain, Yizhar reasserted his position as the greatest living master of Hebrew prose with Preliminaries. Strongly autobiographical, Preliminaries progresses frame by frame, showing a boy growing up in a Jewish farming community in Palestine and in the young city of Tel Aviv between the years 1917 and 1930. The boy's sensual experience, his most primary, embryonic grasp of the world, coalesces with the adult consciousness looking back, a kind of late return to the innermost part of the child. His growing-up is linked to the story of the land of Israel in the early days of Jewish agricultural settlement: the longing to create a new Jew, the harsh existence of the struggling community, the early clashes between Jews and Arabs. Yizhar's pictures are rich in sensual power, laden with scents and colors. But the real subject of Preliminaries is a child's discovery, in confusion, wonder and terror, of the concrete world around him. In resurrecting his childhood in the land of Israel, Yizhar is carrying out a gentle stocktaking of the renewed Jewish society.
Preliminaries has been translated by Nicholas de Lange of Cambridge University, one of today's outstanding translators from Hebrew to English. Introduced by Dan Miron.