In this new book, Yizhar achieves the impossible and surpasses his previous literary achievements. By the Sea contains three novellas, all related to the sea.
In the first novella, A Swim in the Sea, a youth swims to a rock which is literally out of his depth, along with two athletic friends. The swimmer's terrifying experience is impressively real; his fear and exhaustion are keenly felt by the reader. The second story, A Run by the Sea, describes the turbulent sail of a youth group on the Dead Sea during a stormy night. First the reader shares the fears of the group leader who is frantically searching for the group he must lead to the meeting place with the boats. Then the nightmarish sail through the violent storm becomes the personal voyage of the reader. The final novella, Walking in the Sea, poignantly describes the consummation of innocent love in a first kiss between a young girl and boy on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. Here again, Yizhar's hypnotic stream of consciousness sweeps the reader along in complete identification with the shy hesitation of the youthful characters.
The sea symbolizes the vastness of the universe in comparison to the smallness of man; yet Yizhar's message is not one of despondency or submission. There is a stubborn resilience in his characters which could well reflect the determination of man to leave a lasting impression on an indifferent world.
The great wonder of the renewal of Yizhar's literary work continues to be apparent in this collection of three novellas... Yizhar is the great master of Hebrew lyrical prose.
Yizhar does not individualize his characters. Rather, through the meditative flow of his writing, he raises them to a universal level of consciousness. The reader identifies with the characters' elemental experience.