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Stories depict the culture of traditional Jewish life in Poland, the lost world of Eastern European Jewry, and the emerging society of modern Israel
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A solid introduction to a writer who has justly been compared to Faulkner and Joyce, this collection of 25 stories by Nobel Prize-winning Israeli novelist Agnon (1888-1970) presents a Jewish modernist who transformed traditional themes and sources in works that speak eloquently of community and dislocation, of longing and loss. Born in a region of Galicia then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Agnon settled in Palestine in 1924 after a decade in Germany. Blending antic humor, ironic detachment, erudition and yeasty lore, the tales include vivid autobiographical sketches of the author's ambivalent early life in Palestine ("Hill of Sand"); complex psychological portraits ("The Doctor's Divorce"); and poignant family drama ("Between Two Towns," which gently satirizes complacent, innocent German Jews of WWI, blissfully ignorant of their ultimate fate). Only a few of the selections are appearing in English for the first time, and nearly half have been previously anthologized. Still, by collecting some of Agnon's best, and by providing an insightful biographical sketch and extensive introductory notes, Mintz (Hebrew/ Brandeis) and Hoffmann (English/Fordham) go far in helping readers to appreciate why Agnon is widely considered the greatest modern writer of fiction in Hebrew.
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Coeditors Mintz and Hoffman make their selection of stories by the first modern Hebrew writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize an argument for the author's peculiar greatness. They group their selections to reflect particular strains in Agnon's work. For instance, stories reflecting his abiding affection for the Eastern European village of his birth, which was swept away by the Holocaust, appear in the section "Buczacz: The Epic Life of One Town," the subtitle of which denotes Agnon's inkling that a single coherent community may be a model of all humans living together. Each section is separately introduced, and textual notes and a glossary of Hebrew and Yiddish terms are appended. If this editorial apparatus occasionally makes you feel wearisomely as if you were back in college, crabbedly struggling with a "text," let it go and just read the stories. They'll remind you of Borges and Joyce and the Bible, and they'll occasionally dazzle with their implicit conviction that "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." Our literary world is certainly fuller because of them. Ray Olson
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Book Description Schocken, 1996. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110805210660
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