- Paperback: 169 pages
- Publisher: The Toby Press; Annotated edition (May 15, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1592641776
- ISBN-13: 978-1592641772
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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And the Crooked Shall be Made Straight Paperback – May 15, 2017
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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, 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 After a house fire in 1924 destroyed his library and the manuscripts of unpublished writings, he returned to Jerusalem where he lived for the remainder of his life.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.
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The book is one of Toby Press' over a dozen Agnon novels. Most are new translations. Each has notes that explain some Agnon ideas, and his mention of past events, places, and people that the average readers may not know. The books also contain detailed commentary explaining the novel.
In this tale, a husband and wife become impoverished and the two decide to have the husband travel from town to town begging for money. The husband gets a letter from the local rabbi that identifies him, the beggar, as a righteous person who deserves help. Unfortunately, matters do not go as planned, the letter gets into the hands of another man, the husband’s travels are pitiable, humiliating and often humorous to the reader, he loses the money he collects, he does not return home for many years during which time his wife is abandoned and fettered.
What was it that caused the husband to fail? As Michael P. Kramer points out in his Foreword to the tale, it was the result of the piety of the time that taught passivity, timidity, impotence, and an inability to assert himself and act, his weak and cooked heart. From the very start of the novel, while he attends the synagogue and spends time studying ancient texts, it is his wife who “put all her efforts into running their business, presiding over everything that had to do with the shop.”
Unfortunately, this failing is still the piety of too many Jews today, and the crooked has not been made straight.