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A Book that Was Lost: and Other Stories Paperback – May 21, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This posthumous collection of short stories by Hebrew literature's only Nobelist (Shira, LJ 9/15/89) includes many pieces that are appearing in English for the first time complete with an autobiographical framework and an introduction for all 25 stories. There are stories that portray the rich Jewish culture of Agnon's hometown in Poland grouped under the title "Buczacz: The Epic Life of One Town." These stories were written in the last years of his life and evoke in an imaginative, coherent fashion the lost world of East European Jewry. In the section titled "Artists in the Land of Israel," Agnon presents a series of self-portraits that give narrative form to the writer's understanding of himself, his community, his art, and the Jewish past. Other sections include "Stories of Germany" and "The Search for Meaning." Readers of Agnon as well as new readers will savor this work. Recommended for all large collections.?Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken (May 21, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805210660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805210668
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,855,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

S.Y. Agnon (1888-1970) was the central figure of modern Hebrew literature, and the 1966 Nobel Prize laureate for his body of writing. Born in the Galician town of Buczacz (in today's western Ukraine), as Shmuel Yosef Czaczkes, he arrived in 1908 in Jaffa, Ottoman Palestine, where he adopted the penname Agnon and began a meteoric rise as a young writer. Between the years 1912 and 1924 he spent an extended sojourn in Germany, where he married and had two children, and came under the patronage of Shlomo Zalman Schocken and his publishing house, allowing Agnon to dedicate himself completely to his craft. After a house fire in 1924 destroyed his library and the manuscripts of unpublished writings, he returned to Jerusalem where he lived for the remainder of his life. His works deal with the conflict between traditional Jewish life and language and the modern world, and constitute a distillation of millennia of Jewish writing - from the Bible through the Rabbinic codes to Hasidic storytelling - recast into the mold of modern literature.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Naomi on February 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This collection of stories by SY Agnon is interspersed with essays that illuminate how the stories are framed by his life. Born in Buzcazc in Galicia (the section of Poland ruled by Austria), Agnon made aliyah as a young man and settled in Tel Aviv. He returned to Germany to study European literature and then returned to Israel and spent the rest of his life in Jerusalem. The stories take place in Europe and Israel. A few are somewhat autobiographical, but most are part dream and part legend. The influence of Kafka is evident, as is that of Talmudic midrash, but these stories are different from anything else. Agnon's references are based in Jewish culture and history -- not that the hitory is accurate -- but these are not about real history; they are about history as transformed by the imagination, and Agnon's imagination is infinite.

However, I hated the electronic form of the book and ended up buying a hard copy. The hypertexting features of the Kindle are limited, but the hypertexting fin this book is useless. Stories are listed by translators, rather than by title, which makes it difficult to find anything without paging through the book. In the print book there is a table of contents by title, so I don't know why the Kindle version is so clumsy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Martin Lupowitz on February 2, 2007
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I have read the English translation, and love it. Agnon's mystical surrealism is worthy of Garcia-Marquez. While being versed in Jewish traditions can be helpful, it is not necessary for appreciating this brilliant writer.
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By Deirdre on February 19, 2013
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Agnon is an intriguing writer. The reader would have to know things about Judaism, but there is a glossary that is helpful. It is not really an easy read although it is easy on a superficial level, but there are many levels more.
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