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Analysis of Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s Novels

Two dominant forces ruled Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s life: the Torah as the essence of a meaningful life and Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, as the ancestral homeland for the Jew. On a personal basis, Agnon integrated these passions into his existence at an early age. He was brought up in a religious home. For a brief time, he abandoned his piety, but he shortly realized that his life was empty without it. He returned to his Orthodox ways and lived as a Jew committed to the Torah, albeit in secular surroundings. He made Eretz Yisrael his home when most religious Jews still looked upon the Holy Land as a suitable burial place but not a place to live. They felt that settlement in Israel could take place only with the advent of the Messiah.

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On an artistic level, Agnon’s early works, those that are best known and have been widely translated, present a nostalgic evocation of the milieu of the Eastern European shtetl—specifically, his native village of Buczacz. The works that are set in the nineteenth century depict a hermetically sealed community governed by piety and love and watched over by the omnipresent and benevolent Almighty. Agnon, however, was a man of his times, fully aware of contemporary events and their effects on the Jewish community. Eretz Yisrael is a motif in all of his works, which reflect the ongoing dissolution of the shtetl as it became increasingly vulnerable to the intrusions of the age. Although Agnon made brief visits to Buczacz as an adult, all of his works are drawn from his childhood memories of his hometown. The images are at times ebullient and joyful, as in The Bridal Canopy; at times fanciful, as in In the Heart of the Seas; and at other times somber and depressing, as in A Guest for the Night.

The Bridal Canopy

The Bridal Canopy is the first novel of a trilogy in which Agnon deals with the experience of Eastern European Jewry. Written in 1931 (although based on a short story completed in 1920), a time of upheaval between two major wars, the novel focuses on the Jewish community in Galicia of the 1820’s. In a mood of fantasy and nostalgia, Agnon presents a work that is both realistic and unrealistic: realistic in its depiction of the Jewish milieu, the piety of the Jew, and his devotion to the Torah; unrealistic in its childlike attitude toward life, where the concerns of men are limited to the amassing of a bridal dowry and to the telling of tales of past saints and wonder-workers.

The theme of this major work, as suggested in the title, is the brotherhood of the Jewish people, which is achieved through the upholding of God’s commandments, especially those of charity and hospitality. The original title, Hakhnasat kala, a Hebrew idiom meaning bridal dowry, was loosely translated as The Bridal Canopy for the English translation of the novel by I. M. Lask, but this is misleading. The focus of the work is on the collection of the dowry; the wedding itself, which takes place under the “bridal canopy,” is of relatively minor significance. Agnon deals with the marriage process, which involves not only the protagonist, Reb Yudel, but also the entire Jewish community. All participate in the preservation of the social institution of marriage and in the fulfillment of God’s commandment of procreation. The bridal dowry, an ancient concept—well known in the time of Abraham, who sent his servant, Eliezer, loaded with gifts, to seek a wife for his son, Isaac—is an integral element of the traditional Jewish marriage.

With this initial novel, Agnon falls into the category of Jewish writers who depict Jewish social institutions humorously. Many of them, such as Yosef Perl and Mendele Mokher Sefarim, writing during the period of the Haskalah—the Enlightenment—parodied and satirized traditional Jewish customs. Agnon’s novel more closely resembles the work of Israel Zangwill, who in the late nineteenth century wrote the marvelously funny work The King of Schnorrers (1894), depicting, with a combination of humor and love, the Jewish mendicant, who is considered a vital aspect of the community. It is through him that the community is able to fulfill God’s commandment of charity. The protagonist, the schnorrer, never allows the community to forget that he is the instrument of their salvation. Similarly, in Agnon’s work, Reb Yudel, by raising a bridal dowry for his daughter, allows the community to participate both in hospitality to a stranger and in charity to the poor. Through the peregrinations of Reb Yudel, one sees a cohesive Jewish community, its members flawed but united, a community wherein each is his brother’s keeper.

The plot is simple, if somewhat improbable. Provoked by his wife’s complaints, the protagonist leaves the relative comforts of his home and the house of study in his native village of Brod and travels to various neighboring communities to raise enough money for the bridal dowry of his eldest daughter. He is accompanied by his faithful friend, the wagon-driver Nota, and Nota’s trusty and intelligent horses, Mashkeni and Narutza. (These names whimsically play on a passage in the Hebrew Bible’s Song of Songs, where the beloved says to her betrothed, “Draw me after thee”—mashkeni—“and we will run together”— narutza.) After spending months on the road, he yearns for a return to the simple life and decides to make up for lost time by settling in at an inn, studying the Torah, and using the collected dowry money to pay for his stay. While at the inn, he is mistaken for a wealthy man who coincidentally happens to bear his same name and lives in the same town as he does. This mistaken identity is the vehicle for the ensuing events: an alliance in the form of an engagement with a wealthy family, the return to his home, the inadvertent intercession of the aristocratic Yudel Nathanson, who unwittingly becomes the patron of Yudel the Hasid, the discovery of the treasure in a cave, the wedding itself, Yudel’s blessed and prosperous life, and his eventual settling in the Land of Israel.

Agnon’s language in The Bridal Canopy is a combination of the Yiddish vernacular and biblical and postbiblical Hebrew. It was the medium of popular Hebrew texts of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries and also the language of the pious Jew of the period depicted. Eclectic in style, the novel is essentially a series of tales or anecdotes held together by the tale of Reb Yudel. Most of the tales in The Bridal Canopy were published as individual stories; some are well integrated into the novel, whereas others seem superimposed. These tales are, at times, didactic, at other times fanciful. Some are folktales; others are Agnon’s own creations. The narrative of Reb Yudel’s odyssey and the tales within the narrative illuminate the character of the protagonist and the inhabitants of the community of Brod, his hometown, and those whom he meets in the neighboring villages. The tale within the tale is also symbolic of the Jew within the Jewish community: Each has his or her own personality, and together they make up a larger entity.

The novel itself is a depiction not so much of Reb Yudel as it is of the entire environment he traverses. It establishes Agnon’s posture in his fictive world as well, an attitude of respect for religious tradition in spite of instances of hypocrisy and ignorance. The work is divided into two parts. Book 1 deals with the departure of Reb Yudel, the raising of the bridal dowry, and the quest for a successful match for his daughter; book 2 deals with his return home and the wedding.

The opening chapter describes Reb Yudel’s high spiritual aspirations and his lowly material circumstances. He lives in an unfurnished cellar. His only possession is a rooster, known as Reb Zerach, that functions at the beginning of the work simply as an alarm clock, awakening Reb Yudel at dawn for the morning worship. At the end of the work, it becomes clear that the rooster’s function is a more subtle one.

Reb Yudel’s character, as the work progresses and he becomes a wanderer, combines three Jewish stock figures: the batlon (the idler), the meshulach (the messenger or schnorrer), and the maggid (the itinerant preacher and storyteller). Reb Yudel, a batlon, known affectionately, if somewhat ironically, as “the Chasid,” the student, is one of that society’s pious men who is incapable of earning a living and spends all day in the house of study. Agnon indicates his attitude toward the protagonist (and the work itself) by referring to him by the descriptive diminutive “Reb Yudel” or “little Jew.” It is the name given to a child or to one of lowly stature, dos kleine Mensch, and lacks the reverence that would be found in the scholar’s appellation. At no time is the character referred to as “Rav Yehuda ha Chasid”—Rabbi Judah, the pious. Agnon wants his audience to recognize the humble nature and childlike quality of his protagonist as well as the inherent comedy of the work. This is reflected not only in Yudel’s naïveté but also in his attitude toward life and the world at large, an attitude indicated in the subtitle of the book, The Wonders of Reb Yudel, the Chasid from Brod . . . , which supports the mood of fantasy and nostalgia in which this novel was written. Reb Yudel is not a saint and does not perform miracles, but he depends on and believes in miracles. Like a child, Reb Yudel interprets experiences and expressions in their most literal contexts. Like the unscholarly, nonsaintly individual, he misquotes the sages, misapplies biblical and talmudic sayings, and misassesses situations.

Agnon’s depiction of Reb Yudel is not harshly critical. Reb Yudel represents a world that no longer exists, a world that was reassuring in its simplicity, in its belief in the goodness of God and humankind, a world where one could spend one’s life recounting the marvels of the sages while enjoying the hospitality of one’s host and brethren. Some critics find a troubling ambiguity in the novel, an uncertain combination of acceptance and rejection of the world so painstakingly delineated. Readers are likely to feel this ambiguity only if they mistake Agnon’s comedy for criticism. In fact, Agnon wrote as a devoted traditionalist; he makes this obvious in his depiction of Heshel, the maskil, the man of the Enlightenment whom Reb Yudel meets during his odyssey. Heshel, ready to discard tradition without replacing it with anything substantial (“Grammar is the foundation of the world,” he claims), receives the harshest treatment of any character in the work. He begins as a wealthy man, and Yudel goes to him for a contribution to his bridal fund, but he ends in a state of abject penury, ill clothed, pockets empty, starving. He comes as a beggar to the wedding of Yudel’s daughter. The point Agnon makes is obvious: Life is impoverished when it is devoid of tradition. In contrast to Heshel, Reb Yudel, the believer, is amply rewarded for his faith with material fortune, a prosperous life with its spiritual culmination in the Land of Israel, where he settles in his old age.

It has been suggested that The Bridal Canopy is modeled on Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, 1615) and that Agnon treats his protagonist ambivalently, as both saint and fool. Actually, Agnon’s style, like Sholom Aleichem’s, more closely resembles that of the American humorist Mark Twain in its use of the vernacular, folk humor, tall tale, literal interpretation of metaphor, and comic treatment of cloistered religion. The protagonist, Reb Yudel, is not a romantic; he does not fight windmills, nor does he reach for the impossible dream, as does Don Quixote. He is a firm believer in the beneficence and magnanimity of God and has utmost faith that all of his needs will be met, and, ultimately, they are. This is not a romantic concept but a religious one.

The Bridal Canopy is an eclectic work. In his Nobel speech, Agnon voiced his indebtedness to the Jewish sources: to the Bible and to its major commentator, Rashi; to the Talmud and Shulhan 4arukh; to Jewish sages and authorities on Jewish law; to medieval poets and thinkers, especially Moses Maimonides; and to contemporary Hasidim and pious men with whom he had spent time.

In the Heart of the Seas

In the Heart of the Seas, the second of the trilogy begun with The Bridal Canopy, is a shorter novel that has much in common with its predecessor. The time period of the second novel is the same as that of the earlier work, about 1820; the milieu, the city of Buczacz (instead of the village of Brod) in Galicia. While The Bridal Canopy ends with Reb Yudel’s ascent to the Holy Land, In the Heart of the Seas begins with the last-minute preparations for the departure of a group of pious Hasidim who have decided to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael. The work deals with the journey itself, the perils, trials, and anguish involved in this trip, and the determination of the pilgrims in spite of all hardships.

It is a tale that commingles reality and fantasy. In 1934, the year the novel was published, Agnon was witness to the Fifth Aliya (ascent to the Land of Israel), which brought some 250,000 Jews to the country. Most of them were refugees from Nazi Germany who managed to leave before all exits were closed. They were not necessarily religious people; they were those who had the means and the foresight to leave. In In the Heart of the Seas, Agnon reflects on what it would be like to emigrate to the Holy Land out of love and religious commitment rather than the political necessity of the times. It is a fantastic concept. The single individual may move whenever he or she desires, but communities of people are not so mobile and will reestablish themselves, or move from the security of their environment, only when forced to do so. This was the case with the Jewish community of Eastern Europe. In the Heart of the Seas is a wistful tale with a realistic veneer.

The work assumes even greater significance if considered in the context of the secular writings of the Hebraists and the cultural climate of the time. Zionism was viewed mainly as a secular and political movement within the Jewish world and was frowned upon by religious Jews who, like the rabbi of Buczacz in In the Heart of the Seas, believed that it was sacrilege to go to Israel prior to the coming of the Messiah. Agnon takes the traditional image of Zion, which the ancient poets and pietists glorified in psalms and poetry, and transforms it into a realistic destination of the pious Hasidim of this Eastern Galician village.

Although the action takes place in the early part of the nineteenth century, the author includes himself as one of the travelers. He is the last to join the group. He is mentioned by name, Rabbi Shmuel Yosef, the son of Rabbi Shalom Mordechai ha-Levi, who is married to a woman named Esther and who has a penchant for storytelling. The tale is related by an omniscient narrator who is replaced at times by the author’s own persona. He purports to be chronicling the adventures of a man named Chananiah exactly as he heard them.

On a literal level, Chananiah is the character who frames the story. The story starts with him and ends with him. Chananiah—meaning “God has graced”—is a saintly mysterious stranger, an evanescent figure. He joins the group of Hasidic pilgrims to the Holy Land. Before they start out on their journey, he tells them his own story, a tale of robbers, immoral men, and their hideouts in a country that knows no Sabbath; the chief of the villains wears phylacteries (leather boxes containing biblical passages that are traditionally worn by Orthodox Jews during prayer), even though he is not Jewish. Chananiah is a jack-of-all-trades; he emerges in time of need to help the travelers with their preparations, making boxes for their belongings while keeping his own in a kerchief. He disappears for the voyage itself but is seen riding the waves on this same kerchief, and he reaches the destination much before his fellow travelers. He also appears on the last page of the work, where the narrator states that the book is a tribute to the memory of Chananiah. This would seem to suggest a realism that is contradicted by the subtitle of the story, Sipur agadah (An Allegorical Tale). In its allegorical context, the work suggests that all of life is a pilgrimage fraught with dangers and hardships, cloaked in mystery. The good, those “graced by God,” will ride the rough seas under his aegis, protected by his garment. The work, then, becomes a tribute not to the evanescent Chananiah of this particular tale but to all of those Chananiahs who embark on the journey into time or who journey from night to day, from ignorance to illumination, donning the protective mantle of God’s covering, the Torah.

Chananiah is also the author himself, who narrates allegorical tales for the reader to interpret. The kerchief is the imagination of the author, which can take him over the seas, or back in time, or anywhere he desires to go.

The style of this work is, like that of The Bridal Canopy, eclectic. Agnon draws from biblical sources, the book of Jonah, Psalms, Song of Songs, the Midrash, among others, and also from travel literature describing voyages to the Holy Land, especially a work published in 1790 titled Ahavat Zion, an autobiographical account of Rabbi Simcha of Zalozitz’s voyage to Eretz Yisrael. Less fanciful than The Bridal Canopy despite its allegorical quality, In the Heart of the Seas acts as a bridge to the realism and sobriety of the last novel of the trilogy, A Guest for the Night, Agnon’s greatest work.

A Guest for the Night

In A Guest for the Night, Agnon changes his mode of storytelling from the comic and fanciful to the tragic. Originally published in daily installments in Ha’aretz, a Tel Aviv newspaper, from October 18, 1938, to April 7, 1939, the novel reflects the unrelenting gloom that pervaded both Europe and Palestine during this period.

Agnon, distraught upon losing his home for the second time, made a sentimental journey to his native village of Buczacz in 1930, attempting to recapture some of the serenity and security of his childhood. He was unsuccessful; within five days, Agnon realized that he could not reenter the protective womb of his childhood. The key to his security was not to return to or re-create a chimerical past but to build a strong foundation in the present, to ensure a firm and stable future. The novel is an extended re-creation of this visit. It deals with the return of the narrator to his native town of Shibush (the Hebrew word for “error”) after his home in Jerusalem has been destroyed by Arab marauders. It is a bleak work, evincing none of the gaiety and merriment of Agnon’s previous novels. Realistically drawn, it reveals Agnon at the height of his powers.

In a complex interweaving of historical and psychological themes, Agnon develops the idea that an adult’s recollection of childhood is best left to the imagination. Reality belongs to the present, and the real present can never be as beautiful as the imagined past. The theme of the Tgun, the “dangling man,” is used to convey the character of the protagonist. He is a man in limbo, ejected from his home, estranged from his family. Just as the agunah, the deserted woman, is still tied down to her evanescent husband, and just as the dangling man dangles from the end of an imperceptible cord, so the protagonist of A Guest for the Night is securely linked to the home and land from which he flees, to the family from which he separates and the traditions that bind him for all time.

Early in the novel, the narrator is given the key to the bet midrash (house of study) by the townspeople of his native village.Ona literal level, the key opens the door to the house of study. The narrator, however, misplaces the key immediately and must have a new one made. The old key turns up once again at the end of the story, when the narrator has returned to Jerusalem; his wife finds it in a corner of his suitcase. The villagers have no need for the key. Most of the old-timers have left town, and those who remain await an opportune moment to leave. The new key suggests that the house of study needs new life to restore its grandeur. The narrator’s presence is temporary, and his effect on the town is limited. Symbolically, the old key represents the old tradition, which has served the townspeople in the past but seems to be in disharmony with the present time and inadequate to meet contemporary needs. One character’s story of a wartime comrade who was shot while still wearing his phylacteries illustrates this point. That the old key reappears at the end of the story, when the protagonist has returned to his home in Jerusalem, suggests Agnon’s concept of tradition: It recedes into the background when it is unceremoniously dropped; it will, however, resurface eventually to take its necessary place within one’s life.Ona psychological level, the key opens the door for the narrator to a secure world where he can close himself off from harm, and although he allows everyone to enter, he knows that whoever comes is a countryman and friend. The four walls of the house of study represent a return to the secure embrace of his childhood.

Eretz Yisrael is another primary theme in this work. Agnon settled in Israel during the time of the Second Aliya, the second wave of Zionist emigration to Israel, which spanned the decade from 1904 to 1914. Those who participated in this aliya (literally, “ascent”) were mainly from Eastern Europe. Many of them became workers and settled in the port city of Jaffa, where Agnon himself settled before moving to Jerusalem. Others settled in existing moshavim (agricultural settlements) or established kibbutzim. Agnon depicts this period of Zionism in A Guest for the Night in his portrayal of the members of the Jewish pioneer group preparing themselves for life in Israel by working as a group on a farm in Poland and also in vignettes of the various members of the Bach family, including the patriarch, Reb Shlomo Bach, who settles in Israel in his old age. The narrator has left Israel after the attack on his home, but he considers his leaving a form of therapy and not a permanent emigration. He expresses his love for Eretz Yisrael by the tales he tells and by his positive attitude toward the Holy Land in conversations with various members of the community. In fact, at one point he says that one of the reasons he does not like to visit with the local rabbi is that he is disturbed by the rabbi’s antagonism toward Israel.

In The Bridal Canopy, Reb Yudel’s journey to Israel is the culmination of his life, and he settles there in his old age. In In the Heart of the Seas, an entire Hasidic group, a quorum of ten, moves to the Holy Land. In A Guest for the Night, young and old strive to achieve the same goal. Not all are fortunate in their endeavors. Some cannot make it for familial, economic, or political reasons. Zvi, the young man who prepares himself for life in the Land of Israel by working on a farm in Poland, cannot afford the cost of proper papers and attempts to enter the country illegally; he is turned back by the British. Some who do make it are disillusioned and do not stay, as is the case with Yerucham Freeman. In fact, Yerucham Freeman’s harsh criticism of the protagonist’s relationship to Israel and his influence on others illuminates another theme of this work: illusions and realities.

For most of the Jews of Eastern Galicia (and, for that matter, worldwide), the Land of Israel at this period was indeed a dream, the subject of poetry, literature, prayers, and communal deliberations. It gave direction to one’s life, but it remained generally an unattainable quest, an illusion, as it were. The narrator of this work, having settled in the Land of Israel while still a youth, transforms this illusion into a reality for his community. He becomes an exemplar for others and, in time, personifies Israel itself. Yerucham Freeman also falls in love with the Land of Israel, but he does not realize that he is exchanging one illusion for another. For this reason, he cannot find fulfillment when he does emigrate to the Holy Land. Entering the new country, he finds that the narrator has left for a sojourn abroad. This information shatters Yerucham’s dream, which was thoroughly interwoven with its personification, and (expelled from the Land of Israel for communist activities) he returns to his native village to gain a foothold in reality.

The narrator makes a similar movement, but for opposite reasons. Reality for him is the home he has established for himself in the Land of Israel, encompassing both its beauty and its harshness. The narrator would like to erase its harshness by returning to a state of illusion— a return to his childhood and his juvenile vision of the Holy Land. His prolonged stay in Shibush demonstrates that one cannot go “home” again, one cannot recapture the past. The narrator arrives in Shibush on the eve of Yom Kippur, the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar, a day of judgment for all. By bringing the narrator in at the onset of this holy day, Agnon suggests that the protagonist needs to take stock of himself and repent for his sins, the most obvious of which is his decision to leave his family and home in the Land of Israel. Just as Shibush is no longer the place that he knew, so must Israel take a more realistic place in his life. Reality may at times be beautiful, but it is also brutal.

All the themes of the novel coalesce within a historical perspective spanning two time periods. The work was written during a six-month span from October, 1938, to April, 1939, a period that witnessed the upheaval of the Jewish communities in Europe prior to the outbreak of World War II and the ultimate destruction of the shtetl way of life. Indeed, A Guest for the Night has been referred to as “an elaborate elegy on the lost shtetl culture.” The story itself takes place in 1930, a time between wars, a time when the entire European world had not had a chance to recover from the devastating effects of the maelstrom of World War I before it was thrown into another cycle of death and destruction. The Jewish community was caught in this vertigo. Agnon’s work captures all the bleakness of this “no exit” situation: Europe, the shtetl, could no longer be the home of the Jew, and Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, was not considered a viable alternative. As a British mandate, Palestine was inhospitable and unsympathetic to Jewish immigration, while the Yishuv, the Jewish settlement in Israel, was not developed sufficiently to be a replacement for the Jewish community of the shtetl. Agnon re-creates this dilemma in the narrative of A Guest for the Night. Allegorically, the title (taken from Jeremiah 14:8) suggests the historical situation of the Jew, who comes as a guest to a foreign country, intending to stay for a short while, and remains for as long as he can maintain his status as a guest; then, when the realities of life force him to do so, he leaves.

Agnon is above all a storyteller, and although the mood of A Guest for the Night differs from that of The Bridal Canopy, the style is characteristically Agnon’s. In both works, the inn or the house of study represents the centrifugal force of the novel: The protagonist employs his vantage point as a hotel guest to narrate his own tales and the tales of the people with whom he comes in contact or allows them to tell their own tales. The protagonists of both novels are passive characters and sedentary people; they are not adventure seekers. Agnon’s heroes are humble, gentle, and compassionate people who are imbued with a love and fear of God and a love for their fellow human beings. Their tales comprise the chronicles of the Jewish people.

Agnon’s later works continue to reflect on the situation of the Jew in modern society. Although the Holocaust is not a major theme of his works, it is an underlying current in many of his novels. In A Guest for the Night, the gloom and sterility of the village seem to foreshadow the destruction of the culture about to take place. Agnon’s next novel, Only Yesterday, set in Palestine in the early part of the twentieth century, symbolically suggests, with its protagonist’s being eaten by a mad dog, the fate of the Jewish people.

Perhaps what has endeared Agnon so much to his people is the love that he expresses for them throughout his writings and his understanding and compassion for their situation, one of uprootedness, which he echoed in the name he adopted for himself. In a fluctuating, chaotic world, his steadfast traditionalism, coupled with his artistic complexity, is appreciated by a general audience as well.

Other major works
Short fiction: “Agunot,” 1909 (English translation, 1970); “Vehaya he-‘akov lemishor,” 1912; Me-az ume- ‘ata, 1931; Sipure ahavim, 1931; “Ha-mitpahat,” 1932 (“The Kerchief,” 1935); Sefer hama’asim, 1932 (reprints 1941, 1951); “Pat Shelema,” 1933 (“A Whole Loaf,” 1957); Beshuva vanachat, 1935; Elu ve’elu, 1941; Shevu‘at emunim, 1943 (Betrothed, 1966); Ido ve‘Enam, 1950 (Edo and Enam, 1966); Samukh venir’e, 1951; Ad hena, 1952 (To This Day, 2008); Al kapot hamanul, 1953; Ha-Esh veha‘etsim, 1962; Two Tales, 1966 (includes Betrothed and Edo and Enam); Selected Stories of S. Y. Agnon, 1970; Twenty-one Stories, 1970; ‘Ir u-melo’ah, 1973; Lifnim min hachomah, 1975; Pitche dvarim, 1977; A Dwelling Place of My People: Sixteen Stories of the Chassidim, 1983; A Book That Was Lost, and Other Stories, 1995.
Poetry: Agnon’s Alef Bet: Poems, 1998. nonfiction: Sefer, sofer, vesipur, 1938; Yamim nora’im, 1938 (Days of Awe, 1948); Atem re’item, 1959 (Present at Sinai: The Giving of the Law, 1994); Sifrehem shel tsadikim, 1961; Meatsmi el atsmi, 1976; Korot batenu, 1979.
Miscellaneous: Kol sippurav shel Shmuel Yosef Agnon, 1931-1952 (11 volumes); Kol sippurav shel Shmuel Yosef Agnon, 1953-1962 (8 volumes).

Bibliography
Aberbach, David. At the Handles of the Lock: Themes in the Fiction of S. J. Agnon. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.
Band, Arnold J. Nostalgia and Nightmare: A Study in the Fiction of S. Y. Agnon. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.
_______. Studies in Modern Jewish Literature. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2003.
Ben-Dov, Nitza. Agnon’s Art of Indirection: Uncovering Latent Content in the Fiction of S. Y. Agnon. New York: E. J. Brill, 1993.
Fisch, Harold. S. Y. Agnon. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1975.
Fleck, Jeffrey. Character and Context: Studies in the Fiction of Abramovitsh, Brenner, and Agnon. Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1984.
Green, Sharon M. Not a Simple Story: Love and Politics in a Modern Hebrew Novel. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2001.
Hochman, Baruch. The Fiction of S. Y. Agnon. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1970.
Negev, Eilat. Close Encounters with Twenty Israeli Writers. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2003.
Shaked, Gershon. Shmuel Yosef Agnon:ARevolutionary Traditionalist. New York: New York University Press, 1989.

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Categories: Literary Criticism, Literary Theory, Literature, Novel Analysis

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