Anita Diamant’s book The Red Tent has been widely criticized for being too liberal with the biblical story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister to the twelve tribes of Israel, especially with her union to Shalem. Although it is true that Diamant embellishes and dramatizes the story of Dinah, she does so in a way that brings new life into the characters of the Old Testament. The Red Tent gives a rich description of what life could’ve looked like from a women’s perspective which is sorely lacking in the Bible.
The story is narrated by the voice of Dinah from beyond the grave and as a result she is able to weave the different perspectives of her family so that it is as though they are the ones that are sharing the story. The way that Dinah recounts the stories of her family is much more bold and enriched than the rather one-dimensional descriptions from the Bible. For example, in the Bible when Rachel takes the household gods from Laban and is confronted by him she is respectful and in fact apologizes for not being able to respectfully greet him as she is on her period. Diamant’s version of what Rachel says in response to Laban’s intrusion into the red tent is much more dramatic “indeed, she stared straight into his face, and without anger or fear or any apparent emotion she said, ‘I took them, Father. I have all of the teraphim. All of your gods. They are here. I sit upon them. The teraphim of our family now bathe in my monthly blood, by which your household gods are polluted beyond redemption…their magic has been turned against you. You are without their protection this time forward” (118). Rachel’s statement emphasizes a feminine twist that Diamant incorporates all throughout the novel. This allows for the development of empowered female characters, which brings new life into the various stories of people from the Old Testament.
Many have been critical of Diamant’s style and some feel that the people from the Bible should only be understood in the context of the Bible. Essentially, they argue that the figures in the Bible can’t be rethought of in a way that makes them more human, that makes them real. However, that is Diamant’s greatest accomplishment. Whether or not that is precisely how Laban or Rachel would act in that situation, I believe that Diamant has the artistic license to be able to rewrite the stories of the biblical figures. Her work is loosely based off of the Bible, it’s not a direct interpretation of it. Personally, I felt that the way that The Red Tent was written gave the biblical figures a fresh perspective and helped the reader understand them as actual people rather than just static characters. The Red Tent was written as a novel, so it should be enjoyed as such, it’s simply what the stories of Genesis could’ve been modeled after, had it been told from a woman’s perspective.
Read this for a book club and I really wanted to love it! I didn't. Actually I'm not sure what I thought of it. I began thinking that there was a kind of "ugly beauty" to it but as I read I became more irritated with it. It was obviously written with a feminist sort of push but as I read I found the main women characters to be severly lacking in their "feminist" views (main point being the character of Ruti - these "strong" women couldn't have been less supportive of this oppressed character if they had tried!) This made me feel even less for them than I already did.
I understand that these times were male dominated but surely 99% of the male population couldn't have been as miserable a lot as almost all the men portrayed here, with the couple of exceptions.
The second half of the book I felt dissolved into a biblical Mills & Boon (which at least made it a breeze to get through) and then we have the ridiculous brief reappearance of Werenren (sorry if I haven't recalled her name correctly). I think the one character I actually liked was Meryt.
The one aspect I did in fact have a positive opinion about was the actual Red Tent. The idea of menstruating women spending 3 days togther away from domestic duties and the outside world is actually quite wonderful although I think the reality would be more likely a tentful of grumbling miserable women if how I feel at this time of the month is anything to go by, lol!
Despite all my annoyances about this book, I have to confess that the last 2 pages actually made me a little teary - not necessarily about the character, more the description....Continua
After being urged from my mother to read this book I decided why not give it a go! This book was out of my usual reading range but I thought it compelling in which the age this book was set. It is clear to us the reader that considerable research has gone into this book to enhance and define every single detail. From what the characters wear to the language and mechanism in which they speak. This book being set in the time of Jacob and Rachel transcends to us a whole new cultural meaning. I feel it opened to us the readers a whole new dimesnison at looking at life. From the celebration of the new moon to the sacredness of marriage and childbirth. A truly powerful and fasinating insight to life at this time, set in an emotional way....Continua
After reading this book, I am glad that we live in this day and age when you can request an epidural for child birth!!
My cousin recommended this book to me several times before I actually bought and read it. I am very glad she kept after me to do so. The author took some liberties that stretched my sensibilities, but that stretching has stuck with me.