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Shmuel Yosef "Shai" Agnon

(1888 - 1970)


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Recipient of the 1966 Nobel Prize for Literature, Shmuel Yosef Agnon was born in Galicia in 1888. He immigrated to Jaffa in 1908, but spent 1913 through 1924 in Germany. In 1924 he returned to Jerusalem, where he lived until his death in 1970. A prolific novelist and short-story writer from an early age, Agnon received numerous literary awards, including the Israel Prize on two occasions.

Called "a man of unquestionable genius" and "one of the great storytellers of our time," S.Y. Agnon is among the most effusively praised and widely translated Hebrew authors. His unique style and language have influenced the writing of subsequent generations of Hebrew authors. Much of his writing attempts to recapture the lives and traditions of a former time, but his stories are never a simple act of preservation. Agnon's tales deal with the most important psychological and philosophical problems of his generation. "Via realistic and surrealistic modes," writes the New York Times, "Agnon has transmuted in his many words the tensions inherent in modern man's loss of innocence, and his spiritual turmoil when removed from home, homeland and faith." An observant Jew throughout most of his life, he was able to capture "the hopelessness and spiritual desolation" of a world standing on the threshold of a new age. Extolled for his "peculiar tenderness and beauty," for his "comic mastery" and for the "richness and depth" of his writing, it is S.Y. Agnon's contribution to the renewal of the language that has been seminal for all subsequent Hebrew writing.

Books Published in Hebrew

Novels:

The Bridal Canopy, Schocken, 1932
A Simple Story, Schocken, 1935
A Guest for the Night, Schocken, 1939
Only Yesterday, Schocken, 1946
Shira, Schocken, 1971
In Mr. Lublin's Store, Schocken, 1974

Agnon published 24 volumes of novels, novellas and short stories. The Collected Works of S.Y. Agnon was published by Schocken in eight volumes between 1953-62, updated with the 11 works that appeared posthumously.

Books in Translation:

Some 85 of S.Y. Agnon's works have been published in translation in 18 languages. A complete bibliography is in preparation and will be published in book form by The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. Selections available from Amazon.com in our bookstore:

 

A Book That Was Lost : And Other Stories. NY: Schocken, 1996.
A dwelling place of my people : sixteen stories of the Chassidim. Scottish Academic Press, No Date.
A Guest for the Night. Gollancz, No Date.
A Simple Story. NY: Schocken, 1985.
Agnon's Aleph Bet : Poems. PA: Jewish Publications Society, 1998.
The Bridal Canopy, NY: Schocken, 1980.
Days of Awe : A Treasury of Jewish Wisdom for Reflection, Repentance, and Renewal on the High Holy Days. NY: Schocken, 1995.
In the Heart of the Seas : A Story of a Journey to the Land of Israel. NY: Schocken, 1986.
Present at Sinai : The Giving of the Law : Commentaries Selected by S.Y. Agnon. PA: Jewish Publications Society, 1994.
Shira. NY: Syracuse University Press, 1996.
Twenty-one stories. NY: Schocken, 1970.

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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