In his fifteen-odd years of prose writing, Avraham B. Yehoshua has moved through three distinct phases. His first stories were brief, allegorical narratives, absurdist in tone and dramatization, and existential in import. Later, in the mid-sixties, he wrote longer stories, more psychologically focused and realistically framed, but still dependent upon strong doses of interpretation. And in the seventies, especially with his most recent Hebrew publication, The Lover (haMe'ahev), Yehoshua has turned still further away from symbolism. Instead, his works have become rooted unambiguously in one, all-encompassing reality: war and its accompanying stresses on the human psyche.
The three stories collected in Early in the Summer of 1970 span the three stages of A. B. Yehoshua's writing career…. "The Last Commander," collected in Yehoshua's first volume of stories (The Death of the Old Man, 1963), is a heavily symbolic work with socio-psychological implications. "Early in the Summer of 1970," first published in … the spring of 1971, is structured along the lines of the French nouveau roman, blending reality and fantasy—the fall of a son and the father's wishful dream of his survival—with an abrogated sense of time. And "Missile Base 612," which appeared in … , is a realistic but ironic work about ennui and futility in the life of an intellectual, both at home and at the front. The theme of war unites the three stories; but their particular chronology and varied modes of depiction and narration make the collection an interesting one indeed. (p. 76)
The dichotomous leadership [in "The Last Commander"] represents two diverse attitudes toward war and military achievement. [The commander] Yagnon—the name may be a pun on the Hebrew yagon, "sorrow" or...
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