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By Micheline Aharonian Marcom

Micheline Marcom describes her latest novel, A short background of Yes—her first because 2008's scathing and erotic The reflect within the Well—as a "literary fado," pertaining to a mode of Portuguese song that, such as the yankee blues, is frequently melancholic and soulful, and encapsulates the sensation of what the Portuguese name saudade—meaning, loosely, craving and nostalgia for whatever or an individual irrepreably misplaced. A short background of Yes tells the tale of the break-up among a Portuguese girl named Maria and an unnamed American guy: it's a collage-like, fragmentary novel whose shape captures the workings of charm and grief, proving once more that American letters has no greater poet of affection and loss than Micheline Aharonian Marcom.

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24 51 There are further major obstacles imposed by our contemporary context which have hindered the investigation of the politics of history in the production of the Israelite past. One of these is the current and, some would argue, dominant mode of viewing the past as something alien, something to be transcended or to be thrown off (cf. Paterson 1991: 3–4). Here we might point to Bellah’s (1976) well-known analysis of the ‘crisis of modernity’: a growing dissatisfaction in Western society with Enlightenment rationalism, a decline in traditional church structures, and a growth in New Religious Movements (NRMs).

It would therefore be improper to extend our historical enquiry from the end of the ‘Israel’ of old to the ‘Israel’ of the present day. 11 Although he claims that it is improper to extend his discussion to the present, he fails to acknowledge that it is the very existence of the nation state in the present that shapes so much of what passes for historical research in this field. It is the domain assumption of a direct connection between ancient Israel and the modern state – encapsulated in his belief of a return to its ‘homeland’ in the ‘ancient land of Israel’ – that predetermines the search.

Cited by Fogel 1983:14) Or again: A judge and jury, indeed, would go mad if they had to decide cases on evidence which will often seem more than satisfactory to the historian. But there is no escape; the historian, if he is to interpret at all, will try and convict on evidence which a court would throw out as circumstantial or hearsay. The victims of the historical process have to seek their compensation in the fact that history provides them with a far more flexible appellate procedure. The historian’s sentences are in a continuous condition of review; few of his verdicts are ever final.

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