SHEMUEL AGNON – BETROTHED   – Eastern Galicia  1888-1970

Traditional home – Heder – Hasidic/bet midrash, rabbinical stronghold.

Hebrew literature & European writings. Some German literature.

Short stories & poems in Hebrew and Yiddish (+versed in Yiddish)

Atracted by Zionism went to Palestine during second Aliyah 1908, where he abandoned his religious practices. Writing mainly in Hebrew from then on (although never forgot Yiddish). Themes – old world and religious life in premodern Galicia and new mileu in Palestine. Skilled at drawing from Classical Jewish texts, unmatched by any other writer, it became a mark of his style.

1912- Returned to Germany (until 1922)- Berlin where he wrote mainly about Jewish life in Poland that echoed pietistic literature. He was welcome by Zionist German leader Martin Buber and members of Jewish intelligentsia;

1915- Maintained by Zalman Schoken for the rest of his life. Schoken introduces him to European and German literary traditions.

1920 Marries Esther Marx and writes starts writing anthology of hasidic tradition in Eastern Europe but in 1924 all his work is lost in a house fire. Which could be interpreted as sing (burning of the Jerusalem temples).

1924 – He returns to Palestine and settles in Jerusalem where he’ll resume his orthodox religious practices.

1931 – his collected works get published in Berlin which brings him recognition as a central literary figure of modern Jewish literature. “In this new environment, he confronted the issues of Zionism and the rise of modern Israel, and also directed his attention to the Old Yishuv, populated mainly by pious Jews. ” (Yivo)

1945- in his novel Only Yesterday, “Agnon suggests that Zionist ideology offers no easy solution for the modern Jew.” (Yivo)

“Deeply rooted in Jewish tradition, but no less exposed to the challenges of modern life and culture, Agnon’s work represents both worlds and, even more so, the complex and rather traumatic transition of Jews from tradition to modernity.”

1966 – won the Nobel Price in Literature



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