characters. An uprooted Japanese studentntries unsuccessfully to engage Brunonin a conversation on the subject of life’snmeaning. A part-Jewish nightclub singernwonders if there is any place on earth fornher; a hack would have Bruno exalt hernwith a vision of Jerusalem—Appelfeldnspares us that. We hear of the town,nreturns. Their indifference is imperfect.nIrremediably conscious, Jews face lifenwith anxiety, but they can face deathnwith open eyes. Nietzsche condemnsnthose who exhort men to learn how tondie. He commands men to live. Nonetheless,nwe must notice that the one personnin Appelfeld’s book who does notn”Why does one of our best writers, a woman, join the chorus of male voices?n—Ms.nwhich hasn’t changed, and the people,nwho have—the Jews are gone, and thenpeople who remain partake of the combinednperpetuation and metamorphosisnnature imposes. A few Jews who hadnmetamorphosed themselves into Christiansnalso survive. Bruno remembersnmany members of one such family whonhad the courage to go to the synagoguenon that last day; only they, “their strangenintegrity intact, had chosen death withntheir eyes open. . . . The rest had covetednlife, and they had been absorbed bynit.” Life did not entirely absorb some ex-nJews. In 1939, a Jew named Brum marriednhis housemaid and metamorphosednhimself into an imitation Austrian. “Hengrew taller, his shoulders filled out, and anluxuriant moustache appeared on hisnface; he sat with his new wife in thencellar . . . drinking beer.” The anti-nSemites left him alone. Yet when Brunonfinds him, Brum complains about his exwife,n”a whore.” Woman-as-betrayer:nthe would-be Austrian relives a Jewishnstory as old as Genesis.nJews never quite get inside life,nnature. Thinking of the unchangednbuildings and trees of the town, Brunonsees that “objects survive longer” thannpeople: “[T]hey are passive. Otherwisenhow could they withstand such changes?nCould it be said, perhaps, that they lacknsensitivity?” Non-Jews, at home withnnature, imitate its indifference. Theynchange little, but that change usuallynamounts to slow degeneration. Austrians,nwho supposedly never blame themselvesnor anyone else, gradually started tonblame the Jews for everything; decadesnlater, they cannot really face a Jew whonSOinChronicles of Culturenchange is the one closest to death,nBruno’s step-grandmother Amalia, annobservant Jew whose words had a “certaintyn. . . forged with steel. . . . Therenwas power in her voice: next to her we feltnsmall.” The narrator’s embarrassednparents put her into a sanatorium. Nietzsche’snlife ended in a sanatorium, afternlife had metamorphosed him not into hisnchosen “Overman” but into a catatonicn—an object.nAppelfeld’s measured, delicatelynshaded style is thoroughly European.nCynthia Ozick’s “five fictions” containnallegory, history, myth, fantasy, criticismnin an exuberant mixing that goes wellnwith contemporary America, where Jewsndon’t quite fit in, either, but where thendifference brings no slaughter. In Appelfeld’snworld sadness overshadows comedy;nin Ozick’s we can afford to laugh.nStill, fire burns upward in America asnit does in Europe. Nature remains intractablynnatural, as Ozick’s Jews (andnsome of her non-Jews) learn. The titlenstory presents the theme. A husband andnwife, novelists, he Jewish and she a convertnfrom Protestantism, throw an unsuccessfulnliterary party (“My God,” hengasps, revealing a kind of religiosity, “donyou realize no one came?”). The ambitionnto host a party to attract “luminaries”n(Howe, Sontag, Kazin, Fiedler,nPodhoretz, Hardwick—invited, obviously,nfor the glow of their fame, not forntheir congeniality) mirrors the couple’snobsession: ” they were absorbed by powern. . . and were powerless.” They feeln”counterfeit pity” for the characters theyncreate and, one suspects, for the peoplennnthey encounter. They reserve genuinenpity for themselves—he, because he is anJew, she, because she is a woman. Confrontednby the failure of their modestnpower venture, they return to the surernterritory of being victims. For the husband,nthis means speaking to the guestsnwho did come of “certain historicalnatrocities” committed by non-Jewsnagainst Jews, culminating in the Holocaust.nFor the wife, it means listening tonthe stories and seeing her own isolation:n”It seemed to her that the room was levitating.n. . . She felt herself at the bottom,nbelow the floorboards, while thenroom floated upward, carrying Jews”nelevated by “the glory of their martyrdom.n” She has another vision, a vision ofn”the goddess.” Giving every evidence ofnhaving read Robert Graves, she regardsnthe Madonna, Venus, Aphrodite, andnAstarte as successive incarnations ofn”eternal” nature, of nature’s fertility,neros, and solidity. “Lucy sees how she hasnabandoned nature, how she has lost tmenreligion on account of the God of thenJews,” who inspires “morbid cudchewing”nand talk of “Death and deathnand death.” Ozick has comically presentednthe same contrast Appelfeld presentsnsadly. Jews levitate, non-Jewsnluxuriate (or wallow, depending on theirnupbringing). The nature that seems tonsatisfy much of humanity most of thentime cannot satisfy Jews.nOzick explores this in each of her fictions.nIn “From a Refugee’s Notebook,”nwe read an essay on Freud, who “lust[ed]nto become a god absolute as stone” bynimposing his psychoanalytic paradigmnon nature. As Moses invented the Sabbath,nthat interruption of nature, Freudninvented “a Sabbath of the Soul,” a rationalisticnattempt to capture, or conquer,nthe irrational. The essayist seesnthe problem: this conquest, attemptednby rational means, owes its origin to anfascination with the irrational; “it maynbe that the quarry is all the time the pursuer.”nThe same “Notebook” also containsnan account of life on the planetnAcirema, where “the more sophisticatednfemales” attempt to conquer nature by an