A Book That Was Lost: And Other Stories

S. Y. Agnon, Author, Schmuel Yoseph Agnon, Author, Anne G. Hoffman, Editor
S. Y. Agnon, Author, Schmuel Yoseph Agnon, Author, Anne G. Hoffman, Editor Schocken Books Inc $27.5 (436p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4120-4
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-8052-1066-8
Hardcover - 978-0-517-17982-6
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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. (May)
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