The Topography of the Self in Muriel Spark’s The Mandelbaum Gate. Małgorzata Czajka
The Topography of the Self in Muriel Spark’s The Mandelbaum Gate Małgorzata Czajka Before her visit to Jerusalem in 1961 Muriel Spark commented in one of the in- terviews, “That is the theme I want to tackle one day in a novel – the half-Jew. […] So many half-Jews deny their Jewishness, and shut a door on something valuable, on the great spiritual stamina of the Jews” (Stannard, 2010: 228). Dis- covering this stamina among the streets and hills of the Holy Land is one of the main themes in The Mandelbaum Gate. The novel, published in 1965, presents a story set in Jerusalem, Israel and Jordan in 1961. The narrative starts (and ends) with one of the characters going through the Mandelbaum Gate, which separated the Israeli and Jordanian parts of the city. Through this act of crossing, both literal and metaphorical, the reader is instantly immersed in a complicated polit- ical, cultural, and religious situation symbolized by the physical presence of the state border dividing the city into two parts. Although the gate, or rather, “ […] hardly a gate at all, but a piece of street between Jerusalem and Jerusalem […]” (Spark, 1965: 330), was torn down in 1967, it is still remembered as a symbol of Jerusalem’s division. In the given context, going through the gate is not only inscribed in everyday reality of the place, but it also provides a symbolic frame for the novel. In August 1961 Jerusalem is torn between Israel and Jordan; it is the scene...
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