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Posted October 15, 2002
It is a cliche that great writers, especially great poetic writers are untranslatable.This is true but it is especially true and more true for Agnon.For Agnon is a writer whose every sentence is an evocation of layers upon layers of the Biblical,Mishnaic,and other religious literature of Israel. His irony and humor , the beauty of his contradictory reality can be known only in Hebrew. In English , this writer whose every sentence is an interpretation which calls for more and more interpretation, may seem static and flat. Yet my guess is that the good general reader can taste from this collection of Agnon his true flavor.A story like "The Scribe " contains much of the striving for sanctity , the religious quest and questioning, the purity and beauty , the evil and disappointment of the world . Agnon is I feel of all writers of fictions the modern world has known the most deeply Jewish , the most rich in relation to the Tradition .Here I suppose I would distance myself from the vast majority of critics who see primarily irony in Agnon's relation to the religious life.I see questioning and contradiction but also a kind of faith , which is best reflected perhaps in his great anthology "Days of Awe " These stories are the kind of great literature which must be read and reread to be understood .They are a masterpiece of Jewish and Israeli literature .Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.