AN ISLAND DEATH
New York: Harper & Row, 1975.
Targ, professor of classics and antiquities ("What's antiquity? A conventionalized sequence fixed by an investment of passionate belief."), has fought his way up from working class to the heights of academia. He has conformed to all the expected norms, shedding his "savagery like snake skins," changing his name, accepting and preaching the dogma his socio-cultural-political world requires of its interpreters of reality.
Now he is troubled; he rages in an anxious panic; all seems meaningless. His passionate study of the past, his belief in the myths of the great western civilization - are they all lies, delusions - or propaganda? His sacrifices of self and othhers - have there been cruelties committed in the name of deceit? Deceit demanded by what? Or whom?
What is the truth? A new kind of reality, shadowy if not totally invisible, has arisen. It is a consuming beast of multi-nationals, of banks and bureaucrats, diplomants, dictators, and prime ministers, universities and secret inteligence gatherers, agribusiness and armies. Is Targ an agent for this unseen but all-powerful nexus of energy and control?
Targ travels to the Mediterranean for solace. But this time his return to the "cradle of civilization" is different. He gets involved in a bizarre and affecting encounter with a man named Kairos. Resurrecting his humanity, Targ makes a gesture of individual responsibility in defiance of the world that created him. But there is a price he must pay...
Strange, powerful and deeply disturbing, An Island Death marks an impressive return by Sol Yurick to the novel form.