Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson

by David Grossman | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1841959138 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingkiwiinenglandwing of Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on 9/20/2010
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingkiwiinenglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Monday, November 29, 2010
Samson the hero... a brave warrior, leader of men and Nazarite of God? Or a misfit given to whoring and lust, who failed to fulfil his destiny?

In Lion’s Honey the story of Samson is examined, from his conception via God (or perhaps his mother just had an affair?) to the murder/suicide of bringing down the temple.

Journal Entry 2 by wingkiwiinenglandwing at Dublin, Co. Dublin Ireland on Thursday, December 02, 2010
I was looking forward to reading this as I have greatly enjoyed the other books I have read in the Canongate Myth series.

Unfortunately this book is like reading notes from a course where the lecturer thinks the class is slightly dim and needs ideas to be constantly repeated. Okay, I get that Samson's mother might feel strange about carrying a "child from God" - stop harping on about it.

I think he underplayed the fact that the angel only appeared to Samson's mother (twice) and his mother was a central figure in the bible passages. The author claims this shows the mother and father were equal, however I think that for the figure of the mother to survive the various re-writing of the bible she was initially the dominate character in the stories.

Samson just sounds like a spoilt sex-mad brat.

Journal Entry 3 by wingkiwiinenglandwing at Manchester, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Thursday, December 02, 2010

Released 10 yrs ago (12/4/2010 UTC) at Manchester, Greater Manchester United Kingdom

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This is off to my Secret Santa recipient, as it is a book from their wish list. I hope they enjoy it more than I did. Have a happy Christmas and a fabulous 2011.

Journal Entry 4 by wingLittleSuzwing at Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, December 25, 2010
Many thanks KiwiinEngland and Merry Christmas! I too am reading through the Canongate Myths series so will see what I think of this one.

Journal Entry 5 by wingLittleSuzwing at Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Wednesday, December 29, 2010
It's an interesting approach for a book. The story of Samson is retold in its original form, and then analysed to death as Grossman tries to decifer the hero's fears and motivations. The analysis involves some pretty large leaps in deduction, but ultimately the story which comes out is fairly believable and touching.

Journal Entry 6 by wingLittleSuzwing at Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, January 08, 2011

Released 10 yrs ago (1/8/2011 UTC) at Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom

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Off to the Philippines as a rabck for akosikulot.

Journal Entry 7 by akosikulot at Panabo City, Davao del Norte Philippines on Sunday, January 30, 2011
Received the other day from LittleSuz as a requested RABCK along with another Canongate Myth book - thank you very much! I read it on the same day, and in one sitting too - who'd have thought Samson was such a sad, sad person?

Journal Entry 8 by akosikulot at Panabo City, Davao del Norte Philippines on Thursday, February 03, 2011
"Important, but not quite loved." -Thoughts on Lion's Honey by David Grossman (translated from Hebrew by Scott Schoffman)

I am no stranger to the story of Samson; I studied in a private, religious school for 13 years, during which I was - for lack of a better, or nicer, word - force-fed the Bible and its stories*. Samson's feats of strength (the only one I was ever able to remember was the one at the end, really - collapsing the two pillars and killing three thousand Philistines in one blow) and his treacherous, short-lived romance with Delilah ("you are my sweetest downfall," so sings Regina Spektor) made a mark on me early on, if only because a) every child remembers stories of superhuman feats, b) Samson and Delilah was my first fatalist love story - I was yet to be introduced to Romeo and Juliet, and c) I was, at a very young age, wondering why Samson had to die together with the Philistines - sure, he had his eyes gouged out and was weak from his recent haircut, but if God really loved Samson, shouldn't He have saved him? Enveloped Samson in a force field while the arena tumbled down around him, perhaps?

I didn't find the answer to that question in Lion's Honey, David Grossman's interpretation (or maybe it's called an analysis?) of the story of Samson (the Book of Judges, chapter 13-16, in case you want to brush up on biblical history). However, Grossman did shed quite the new light on Samson that made me go "why didn't I think of that?" and "oh my ... goodness, he's right!": that Samson was - and these are my words, not Grossman's - a misunderstood freak who never realized that he was exploited (nationalised was Grossman's term) by God, and that his womanizing (which really is too big a word in his case; does being with three women - not even simultaneously, no - count as womanizing? Then again it was the biblical times) was in truth a need for intimate connection which he'd lacked his entire life, beginning with his miraculous conception (they say his mother was barren, but hey, the patriarch should be under suspicion for infertility, too), ending with his first love Delilah's treachery (the three times she tried to harm him should have been enough of a warning - but, alas, the poor guy was in love) and ultimately leading to his demise under the two pillars with the Philistines (which in any case looked like a suicide but since it's in the Bible, it counts as a sacrifice).

Grossman wasn't as blunt, though.

The exploration of Samson's life is so detailed, so intricate, that Grossman even had footnotes; his discussion alone of how an angel informed Samson's mother of her impending divine pregnancy ate up the first 30 pages of the book. That Samson was a misunderstood person "who has been planted in the world and operated as a lethal weapon of divine will," at the same time clueless as to his purpose in life - "He goes through life like a walking enigma, marvelling over his secret, his riddle." - and his greatest struggle being pre-destined for such greatness as God's instrument (or puppet, depending on how one views it), a destiny which has made him different, an outcast, when all he ever wanted was to fit in. His story is littered with allusions to his great disconnect - with his parents, his people, even to himself; Samson was larger than life, yet despite his great strength, he was emotionally inadequate for the job. "How astonishing and poignant, this gulf between enormous physical strength and an immature, childlike soul."

Grossman's interpretation of the story of Samson is so far, far removed from what I've grown up with; Scott Schoffman's translation is delicious in its simplicity - what could have turned out to be a boring, seemingly academic book became vivid in giving a new (albeit quite the eccentric) definition of one of the Bible's greatest heroes. I was honestly expecting a work of fiction when I picked up the book, but I'm glad I was wrong.

Samson's story, though full of great feats of strength, ended sadly with his death; Lion's Honey, however, has made me even more melancholic, sadder for a man whose greatest wish was "that one person love him simply, wholly, naturally, not because of his miraculous quality, but in spite of it."

I hope he didn't die in vain.

PS. A thought, in retrospect: everyone's trying to be different, "but maybe it is not a weakness, an illness, to be like everyone else."

* I have nothing against the Bible, though. In fact, my copy is quite the confidante (I hide small notes and the occasional rainy-day bill between its pages) and great giver of advice (the occasional Bible-dipping, as introduced by Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors). I'm not trying to be blasphemous, I swear.

Originally posted here.

Journal Entry 9 by akosikulot at Potential BookCrossers, Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Released 10 yrs ago (2/23/2011 UTC) at Potential BookCrossers, Bookring -- Controlled Releases

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BookCrossing: the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

Guess what - you've caught a travelling book! Welcome to BookCrossing, where you can follow the journeys of books released into the world.

How it works: The book in your hands has been registered on BookCrossing and has been assigned a BookCrossing ID number (BCID). Since you've caught and entered the book's BCID, you may make a journal entry below - let us know how and where you found it, maybe even tell us what you thought about the book, but most especially, let us know that one of our books is in good hands (if you wish to remain anonymous, you may opt for the AnonymousFinder option).

It's completely free to join, and I hope you'd consider placing akosikulot or whoever wild-released or sent you the book as your referring member.

BookCrossing is free to use, fun, and can be anonymous! READ AND RELEASE! Happy reading!

***


I'm passing this book, along with two other books in the Canongate Myths, to friends (and potential BookCrossers - fingers crossed!) as a sort of mini-bookring, because I loved the series so much and wanted them to know about it.

Hi guys! I'm pretty sure your curiosity will get the best of you and you'll check out those BCIDs - I hope you'd take the time to make a journal (you can choose the AnonymousFinder option if you want) to let me and the previous readers of the book know where it's traveled! I hope you enjoy the book as much as we did. :)

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