When Tammuz’s first stories were published
in 1950, they were ahead of their time and were unusual in comparison
to the realistic prose then being published in Israel. Today, they are still considered a milestone in the annals of the Hebrew short story. The present collection
combines four books that Tammuz published during his literary career, plus
three additional stories.
The tales in Sands of Gold
(Machbarot Lesifrut, 1950), Tammuz's first book, are
set in old Tel Aviv—then still a small town— and in a rural settlement south of
it, during the time of the British Mandate. Tammuz harkens back nostalgically
to the experiences of childhood, to purity, innocence and growing pains. The
stories focus on a sensitive, introverted boy, described through the eyes of an
adult narrator grieving for a world that has been destroyed.
second collection, A Garden Enclosed (Schocken, 1957),
Tammuz included satirical, grotesque and topical stories, sketching a portrait
of Israeli society after the 1948-49 War of Independence. Here, Tammuz becomes
a critic of contemporary Israeli society, condemning the vulgarity and ugliness
of modern urban reality.
Story of Anton the Armenian and Other Stories (Machbarot Lesifrut, 1964), we
see Tammuz’s need to respond to historical events emerge. The relationships
between characters reflect the conflicts between nations, and these stories of
ideas portray Israel that is being built on the ruins of the authentic,
rural Jewish-Arab country of the past, during the early Zionist colonization.
In his fourth collection, The Bitter Scent of Geranium (Hakibbutz
Hameuchad, 1980), Tammuz returns to the Land of Israel in the 1920s and 30s.
Embedding them in the great historic events of the time, he portrays various
types of Jewish immigrants in old Tel Aviv. Their static nature, their eccentric
traits, and the narrator's distanced objectivity create a humorous tone.
PARTIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE.
importance of these little tales lies in their difference from the conventional
concept of the Israeli short story … There is no pathological chasing after
sensations. Ostensibly modest trifles, which nonetheless feel authentic, are
the subjects of these stories … Tammuz tells us about people the way that they [really]
are, about childhood and youth … His eye uncovers something universally human
Kurzweil, Haaretz, 24.11.50
stories that are clearly Israeli … The prose is clean, polished, rich, poetic
and lyrical … The author introduces humorous and ironic notes of the finest
kind ... “Horizon” is a typically Israeli tale but an excellent international
one – original, colorful, rounded and rich, both lyrical and sarcastic – in
short, an exemplary story … Tammuz is good at recounting memories, at reviving
events after time has distilled them and they have reached a refined state.
Zmora, Davar, 4.12.59
impression made by the de luxe edition of Sands of Gold reaffirms the indubitable
value of the short story … The economy [of style], self-control, clean humor
and restrained lyricism – these are all the signs of the cultivation and
refinement that won admiration and affection for Sands of Gold when it
Miron, Haaretz, 22.4.60
interesting and important collection … Tammuz tackles the Israeli way of life
from a new perspective, one that forgoes all cheap effects … [he makes] an
honest effort to shake off the provincial banality of the Israeli short story. …Tammuz’s
great linguistic skill, his economical use of words, of dialogue, and in
particular of delicate situations, are what determine the value of these
Kurzweil, Haaretz, 22.11.57
I have a
liking for Tammuz’s writing, you can always feel the artist in it – especially
when he portrays episodes from his childhood, because they are so delicately
and sensitively [crafted]… "Angioxyl, a Rare Cure" is
a model story, have rarely come across anything like it … in modern Hebrew
literature … In the excellent story “The Swimming Race” the past, illuminated
by the eyes of a child, takes on an idyllic dimension.
[M. Bar-Yaakov], Maariv, 21.2.64
excellent stories … Tammuz’s language is economical, unadorned … On deeper
reading, [I find] tones of poetry, subtle humor, true sadness, and spot-on
descriptions … This book is without doubt an outstanding contribution to truly
modern Hebrew literature, without any artificial melancholy or intentional
nostalgia. A contribution that restores the basic significance of words: the
Ben-Shaul, Moznaim, June 1964
Tammuz’s stories are flawlessly told, using
means that are astonishingly simple: clever phrasing and organization of the events.
The most complex situations are told with a maximum of economy and with
uncommon naturalness. This book is definitely an event in the life of Hebrew
Yosef Oren, Maariv, 16.5.80
We have here one of most interesting and cultivated new
collections of stories … There is, in these love stories, a certain magic …
their structure and the rhythm of the language are polished, as is the way that
Tammuz blends in stylized literary Hebrew, which he then undermines to create
comic and ironic effects ... Beyond that, there are often also intriguing and
believable paradoxes that touch upon the trivialities of life …Tammuz is a
great storyteller precisely because of his simplicity.
Yaron Golan, Davar, 16.5.80