The Liv­ing on the Dead

Aharon Megged, Micha Lou­visch, trans.
  • Review
By – July 9, 2012
The Liv­ing on the Dead, first writ­ten in Hebrew in 1965 by award-win­ning author Aharon Megged, has now been trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish by Micha Lou­visch. It is the sto­ry of Jonas Rabi­now­itch, a promis­ing author who has been com­mis­sioned to write the biog­ra­phy of nation­al Israeli hero Abrasha Davi­dov. But in the end it is a book that will nev­er be writ­ten, a book that rejects its author; Jonas is haunt­ed by the leg­end Davi­dov, immo­bi­lized by his sub­ject to the point where he sim­ply can­not com­mit pen to paper. The Liv­ing on the Dead at times reads slow­ly and is dif­fi­cult to fol­low. Per­haps some­thing has been lost in trans­la­tion, or per­haps it is that Megged’s pro­tag­o­nist is revealed as a man of lit­tle redeem­ing val­ue. Jonas is self-indul­gent, inca­pable of real rela­tion­ships and of ques­tion­able moral char­ac­ter. Still, the book pro­vides a com­pelling por­trait of life in the young State and an inter­est­ing com­men­tary on hero­ism, remind­ing us that even the great­est of heroes are ulti­mate­ly human, sub­ject to weak­ness and imperfection.

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