ENG 330 S. Y. Agnon – Betrothed

Questions to consider

1. In what ways does the past haunt or intrude upon the present in this novella?

Jacob is afraid of being rejected by Susan. He thinks their childhood memories and commitments do not apply to adulthood; he is ridden with fear. He often recalls childhood memories and how he views Susana. Intermixes adult Susana in her mother’s funeral, but with a child’s face.

2.  What do we learn, in the course of “Betrothed,” about Rechnitz’s choice of study?

3.  What elements from classical Greek culture play a role in the novella?  Ancient Egyptian culture?

(59) Aesculapius the god of health proctected him

4. What odd behavior does Susan exhibit, and what seems to be its nature?

Susan spirit had sank almost left (50)

(58) by the cemetery she asked him about their promise.

5. In what ways might this story be read as a dialogue with Freud’s theories of the unconscious?

ummm (63 – 64) This secretary knows an awful lot.

6. How does the description of Rechnitz’s work on p. 118 resonate with other aspects of the novella?

7. Compare the description of the yishuv in Agnon’s “Betrothed” and Brenner’s “Nerves.”


Chapter I -3rd person narrator. Jacob Rechnitz’s story (travel to the holy land).Visits Jaffa. Almost biblical tone. (3).

(4) Offered a teacher at school in Jaffa (Latin & German). Botanist by profession, took Latin & GErman “For sometimes it is no the position that makes the man, but the man who makes the position.” Treat students as one. Good reputation.

(5) only one month in Jaffa already a favorite guest. Fever for land speculation over.  Jaffa unlike any others, yields herself only to those honest workers who labor with her.” Undemanding zionists.

(6) Russian & Yiddish spoken in Jaffa, not German.  Hebrew not as widespread

(7) Readings with families, walks with daughters, but interest Sea & plants. Reports to professor in Viena to publish in the Imperial & Royal Society for Botanical and Zoological Studies.

(8) Yehia, The Yemenite caretaker would haggle with Arab fishermen to take him.

(9) dedicated botanist. Account for work Cryptogams of the Mediterranean

Chapter II

(10) eternal student. Reading Homer. “He heard a voice like the voice of the waves, though he had never set eyes on the sea […] but  that sea whose call he had heard spread itself out before him, endlessly, while the moon hovered over the fas of the waters, cool and sweet and terrible.” Read about voyages = longing.

(11) lol, he studied mecidine to become ship’s doctor = he fainted in anatomy. Saw seaweed speciemens = decided to become botanist. = payed trip to Palestine. by Herr Gotthold Ehrlich.

Chapter III

(11) Ehrlich was his neighbor and helped him to get into high school. Susan Ehrlich!!!!!! used to play with him.

(12)Susan,only and capricious child, fancied him. “Jacob is all mine,.., and when I’m grown up I am going to marry him.” Cut one of her curls, along one of his, mingled it together, burn it and eat the ashes… lol. Frau Gertrude Ehrlich loved him too. She is fragile. Jacob and Susan were sweethearts.

(13) Herr Ehrlich sold his house due to debts and the kids grew distant. Susan sent to boarding school. Portraits of Susan and Frau.

(14) portraits took life on its own. vanishing figures, made an impression on Jacob. Ehrlich – CONSUL

(15) Jacob inquires about Frau, not well. But Susan is doing well.

(16) Jacob to university. Earned his keep as tutor. Still appreciative of the Consul visited him twice ayear.


(18) Jacob was really attached to Frau Ehrlich, didn’t want to miss funeral!

Chacpter V

((19) manner of speak narrator: As we have said… Once he finished PHD, He was going to Palestine. Consul gave him money gift (afection & Esteem)

(20) In jaffa, hi didn’t forget benefactor. Sent greetings twice a year. He never wrote to Susan. Cause childhood bounds are no longer applicable. He was busy with his plants.

(21)lol… Rechnitz would frequent the ‘enlightened homes of the town, where he was given warm welcome. If there was a pleasing daughter, that was good; if there were two, better still.” looool. He became acquainted with many girls of this type. He was a gentelman. Speaking to them about other lands, customes, etc.

(22) Jacob was Austrian! Jacob and Rachel Heilperin, Leah Luria, Asnat Magargot, Raya Zablodovsky, Mira Vorbzhitsky and Tamara Levi were called the SEVEN PLANETS when they all took a strall at night by the beach… Beautiful language description here…

Chapter VII

(23) SUSAN & THE CONSUL were visiting via Egypt… they were traveling through Africa!

(24) Jacob went on doing preparations… it was going to be for 5 or 6 days, but he was too excited.

(25) Jacob can’t picture Susan as grown woman.

Chapter VII

(25) They camen, Susan inquiringly looks at him, and talks to himas an old friend with the german DU

(26) Jacob forgot all plans and went to lunch with them.

(27) Jacob explains he is a teacher who lives well despite the low salary.

(30) He recalled occult philosophy: how those motions of the soul that urge us on canot bring us to act without the help of other, external factors. And if these external factors do not collaborate, all the motions of our soul are vain, and lead only to inner confusion. … Stripped of all cheer, he walekd away from the hotel. He is sad that Susan has not shown any signs… “What a pity we aren’t happy now!”

Chapter VIII

(31) he was sad on his few hours alone before going back to dine with guests. LEah finds him and he confeses he feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere.

(32) then he decided to go with Leah to Rachel… and now much happy, when he replied in Yiddish “Why not.”

(68) Weird space/time travel


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