Finally, a novel! Or not.
Reading Until the Dawn’s Light is an intense experience, and while I have thoughts on the content I feel they would be redundant, so I’ll comment instead on the style.
Appelfeld writes with such finesse. The short, nonlinear chapters do not at any point give the impression of nonlinearity–the novel is perfectly seamless. The major events of Blanca’s life are told in multiple stages, her formative experiences are gradually revealed, yet a grey sadness, indeed blankness, permeates the whole text. It seems that the more I read about Blanca, the less I knew about her, which was why the events of the climax were not jarring; at that point I already was unable to know anything she did. Her stories are mostly of confusion and pain and annihilation–what climax could properly conclude them? The form of the novel (especially one with bleakness, and especially one with such complex themes) demands a dramatic, symbolic finale.
Miranda Burgess’ comments about silence during her lecture gave voice to a phenomenon I feel has been pulsating quietly in most discussions and seminars I’ve attend. She talked about silence–how Blanca was repeatedly unable to adequately speak the words on her mind. Silence has been a recurring theme in this stream, with Kierkegaard and The Penelopiad and even in Plato. It seems absurd that we can only speak about silence, then, by discussing it. The course is so fast-paced and driven that sometimes it seems not enough time is given to absorbing the text.