- Paperback: 186 pages
- Publisher: The Toby Press, LLC; Revised edition (October 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1592643566
- ISBN-13: 978-1592643561
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#2,809,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #116790 in Literary Fiction (Books)
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Two Tales Paperback – October 1, 2014
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A blending of memory, illusion and reality… [In Two Tales Mr. Agnon's] themes and approaches to literature show a remarkable affinity with those of other modern writers. Like Joyce, he makes his co-religionists a paradigm for the state of 20th century man; like Eliot, he affirms a literary tradition from which he draws language, symbols and images in profusion; and, like Kafka, he senses the problems of the individual trapped in the maze of a complex world. --The New York Times Book Review
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 After a house fire in 1924 destroyed his library and the manuscripts of unpublished writings, he returned to Jerusalem where he lived for the remainder of his life.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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Edo and Enam is about the clash between European and Asian/African Jewish cultures in Jerusalem, told in a Mishnaic style with elements of magic. The narrator, checking his friends' apartment while they are away, meets his bookseller, now married to a sleepwalking woman from a strange eastern tribe, and an ethnologist who seems to have stolen her love with the aid of some magic leaves. Betrothed is the story of Jacob Rechnitz, an Austrian-born teacher and biologist who lives in Haifa after the first World War. Loved by six different women, he remains faithful to his childhood sweetheart, who falls ill after their marriage. Here the magical element in an otherwise normal novella is a footrace proposed by his six woman friends, the winner to marry him after his wife dies. Both books are permeated by an aura of foreboding that makes it hard to keep reading. One funny element is Agnon's "history" of the Griefenbach house in Edo and Enam. Loaded with characters and things whose names all begin with G, it is almost a tongue twister.
Betrothed & Edo and Enam
By Shmuel Yosef Agnon
Shmuel Yosef Agnon (July 17, 1888 – February 17, 1970) is considered one of Israel’s greatest writers. Agnon shared the Nobel Prize with the poet Nelly Sachs in 1966. Some of his works deal with the conflict between the traditional Orthodox Jewish life and life and behavior in the modern world.
Many of his stories are told by a narrator, and he is credited for contributing to the broadening the characteristic conception of the narrator role in literature. Many are written in the magical realism style of another Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Magic realism a literary or artistic genre in which realistic narrative and naturalistic technique are combined with surreal elements of dream or fantasy. An example would be where an author tells realistically about a man beginning to cross a bridge, but when he gets about half way across, he begins to rise in the air and float the rest of the way. The style is entertaining, thought provoking, and it prompts readers to form their own interpretation of the tale, as parables do.
Betrothed is about a man and a woman who as children promised to marry each other as they stood at the edge of a Viennese garden pool, as the biblical Jacob and Rachel stood by water in Genesis 29 and as kings were crowned by water, as in I Kings 1. The story focuses on what transpires to the couple when they fail to marry as they swore to do and their reunion after the passing of many years. As with many other Agnon stories, this one can be read literally, what is said in the tale is what happens. It can also be read as a rich allegory, as scholars insist it be read and enjoyed.
Similarly, some scholars insist that Edo and Enam can only be read as an allegory; otherwise it is enigmatic and inexplicable. But the scholar Arnold Band inveighed against focusing on the complexity of the tale “which detracts the reader and critic from the aesthetic charm of the story.” The tale is set in Jerusalem in the final years of the British Mandate. A couple, husband and wife, are house sitting, while in an adjacent room sits a scholar, a recluse, a mysterious man, who is studying an ancient culture. The wife is from a faraway land. She has a strange sleep walking disease and seems to walk toward the scholar.
Both stories are erotic, and both are superb on many levels.