Shmuel Yosef Agnon Short Fiction Analysis
To read Shmuel Yosef Agnon’s stories is to become immersed in the emerging Jewish state, Eastern Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Jews in Germany during the Holocaust and throughout history, and individual people struggling to find their niche in these different places and situations. Agnon’s sentences are often formed around allusions to Jewish texts and traditions, and the reader benefits from exploring the layers of meaning implied by these references. Agnon frames his stories in a way that begs the reader to struggle with the fine line between fact and fiction.
Much of Agnon’s work relies on historical elements for its realism. Its combination of fact and fantasy reveals the breadth of his imagination. His connection to Israel, he said, made him feel as if he had been born in Jerusalem. Agnon, considered the greatest Hebrew writer of the twentieth century, also was inspired by past writers. Although his first book collection was destroyed, before he died he had amassed an even greater collection at his home in Jerusalem. His work, as critic Harold Fisch has said, “reflects the ongoing processes of Jewish life in his time.” As a catalog of modern Jewish history and experience, Agnon’s work is definitive of, as well as being defined by, its context. His influence on the development of modern Hebrew literature is unparalleled.
“Fable of the Goat”
In his earliest stories, Agnon...
(The entire section is 2739 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Shmuel Yosef Agnon Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!