My Michael was the first of Oz’s novels to enjoy wide sales in the original Hebrew-language edition and his first novel to be translated into English. The narrator of the book is often seen as a fictionalized version of Oz’s mother, although the novel does not conclude with the narrator’s death. Instead, the novel ends with the narrator’s descent into a world of her own, where the visions that she described earlier take on an apocalyptic character. There is an air of destruction in the closing pages that is reminiscent of Moby Dick (1851), one of the novels that influenced Oz.
From the beginning of the book, there is a sense that the narrator and her husband, the Michael of the title, are mismatched. The warmth of their relationship is tepid, at best, and the wife maintains a sense of distance from her husband and from the subjects in which he is interested. The fact that he is a geologist, while she is a student of the humanities, serves as an excuse for her to ignore his scholarly work. When she eventually pays a visit to the university where he works, there is a sense on both of their parts that this is a merely a gesture of politeness.
Politeness is not something the narrator values in the dream world in which she comes increasingly to reside. In that world, she sees herself as a queen, with servants like Michael Strogoff from Jules Verne’s novel of that name and with foes out to destroy the realm over which she...
(The entire section is 549 words.)