• August 14, 2022
  • 17 5782, Av
  • פרשת עקב

Monthly Agnon Book Club

Monthly Agnon Book Club

Welcome to the Agnon Book Club with WebYeshiva.org and the Agnon House in Jerusalem. We’ll have four sessions (once a month) each exploring one of Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon’s novels. Feel free to read the novels in advance of each session, or use our discussion to help orient yourself in advance of your own reading (or just come and enjoy the talks on these monumental works of modern Hebrew literature and discover their roots in classical Jewish sources).

Live at the Agnon House in Jerusalem or online at WebYeshiva.org
To register for the in-person session at Beit Agnon register with them: 02-671-6498

July 1, 2012 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Monthly Agnon Book Club: Lesson 1
Class description

A Simple Story -Welcome to the Agnon Book Club with WebYeshiva.org and the Agnon House in Jerusalem. We’ll have four sessions (once a month) each exploring one of Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon’s novels. Feel free to read the novels in advance of each session, or use our discussion to help orient yourself in advance of your own reading (or just come and enjoy the talks on these monumental works of modern Hebrew literature and discover their roots in classical Jewish sources). Our first session – held live at Jerusalem’s Agnon House (http://www.agnonhouse.org.il/en/)and worldwide on WebYeshiva.org’s live interactive portal will focus on Agnon’s 1935 psychological novel A Simple Story (Sippur Pashut). The book is available in a fine English translation by Hillel Halkin (new or used from Amazon.com(http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Library-Modern-Jewish-Literature/dp/0815606184/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338891323&sr=8-1) – in Israel usually available at bookstores that carry English books or in the used book stores). For those up to reading the novel in Hebrew, Schocken recently published an annotated edition(http://www.schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=1138&Page=) which will likely be useful. I have uploaded chapters 1-3 and 7 – minimally read through those in advance of our session. I have also uploaded an essay by Israeli literary critic Dan Miron “Domesticating a Foreign Genre: Agnon’s Transactions with the Novel” which provides a general overview for our entire series. For those interested in more background reading in English I recommend Arnold Band’s Nostalgia and Nightmare,(http://www.amazon.com/Nostalgia-Nightmare-study-fiction-Agnon/dp/B0006BR6CS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339575581&sr=8-1&keywords=arnold+band+agnon) and for A Simple Story in particular see attached bibliography. Visit www.WebYeshiva.org/Agnon to see the schedule of upcoming sessions, to catch the recorded archives, or to download course resources. As always, feel free to reach me with questions or comments – jeffreysaks@gmail.com

August 5, 2012 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Monthly Agnon Book Club: Lesson 2
Class description

A Guest for the Night-For our second meeting (on Sunday, August 5) we’ll explore Agnon’s 1939 novel A Guest for the Night (Ore’ah Nata LaLun) – the tale of the narrator’s nostalgic and nightmarish return to his native hometown in Europe between the World Wars, and a picture of Jewish society on the brink of destruction. The English translation is available on Amazon (and in Israel usually in the used book stores; Steimatzky will usually order it for you if it’s not in stock). The Hebrew volume should be available in most Israeli book stores or through Schocken Books.(http://www.schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=183&Page=) I have uploaded a few sample chapters and a “cast of characters” that populate the novel. I remind you of the Dan Miron essay that surveys all of Agnon’s novels (at this link). Those who did manage to read the whole novel, and are interested in the motif of the book Yadav Shel Moshe, used as a segula during childbirth, which the Guest sends off to Jerusalem, may want to follow up with reading the title story in the collection A Book That Was Lost(http://www.amazon.com/Book-That-Was-Lost-Classics/dp/1592642543) which is linked from the class materials here.(http://www.webyeshiva.org/class/?material=3528) (For our third session on Sept. 2 we’ll do The Bridal Canopy(http://www.amazon.com/Bridal-Canopy-Library-Modern-Literature/dp/0815606400/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340606524&sr=8-1&keywords=agnon+bridal+canopy), in Hebrew: Hakhnasat Kalla.)(http://www.schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=189&Page=)

September 2, 2012 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Monthly Agnon Book Club: Lesson 3
Class description

The Bridal Canopy-For our third session on September 2nd we’ll undertake Agnon’s first novel, and the first to be translated into English, The Bridal Canopy(http://www.amazon.com/Bridal-Canopy-Library-Modern-Literature/dp/0815606400/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340606524&sr=8-1&keywords=agnon+bridal+canopy) (in Hebrew, Hakhnasat Kalla)(http://www.schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=189&Page=). This 1931 work describes the wanderings of impoverished, naive and pious Reb Yudel Hasid through the shtetls and towns of Galicia at the beginning of the 19th century, in search of a dowry – and a bridegroom – for his daughter. Told as a series of tales framed by Reb Yudel’s travels, some critics have called The Bridal Canopy a Jewish Don Quixote. Attached is a file with the translator’s preface and chapter 1. Also, sample pages from Avraham Holtz’s outstanding annotated edition of Hakhnasat Kalla.(http://schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=796) The clip from “Fiddler on the Roof” shown at the end of the session can be seen here: http://youtu.be/ckJEYoKEUoE (For our final session on October 14th we’ll tackle Agnon’s magnum opus Only Yesterday; (http://www.amazon.com/Only-Yesterday-S-Y-Agnon/dp/0691095442/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341220860&sr=8-1&keywords=agnon+yesterday)in Hebrew Tmol Shilshom.)(http://www.schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=420&Page=)

October 14, 2012 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Monthly Agnon Book Club: Lesson 4
Class description

Only Yesterday- For our final session on October 14th we’ll tackle Agnon’s magnum opus Only Yesterday;(http://www.amazon.com/Only-Yesterday-S-Y-Agnon/dp/0691095442/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341220860&sr=8-1&keywords=agnon+yesterday) in Hebrew Tmol Shilshom(http://www.schocken.co.il/?CategoryID=162&ArticleID=420&Page=). This epic novel of the Second Aliyah(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Aliyah) was first published in 1945, although parts of it had been published as early as 1909. In addition to a bibliography of writings in English on the novel, I have uploaded sections of the Prologue as well as the end of Book 2 (there are four such “Books” in the novel, plus the 40 page Prologue). For those who can’t manage to read the whole thing (and you should really try, but it is almost 650 pages long in translation) you might at least gain an outline of the plot from this NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/09/24/reviews/000924.24rosent.html)book review.

Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding director of ATID – The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, in Jerusalem, and its WebYeshiva.org program. He is the Editor of the journal Tradition, Series Editor of The S.Y. Agnon Library at The Toby Press, and Director of Research at the Agnon House in Jerusalem. A three-time graduate of Yeshiva University (BA, MA, Semicha), Rabbi Saks has published widely on Jewish thought, education, and literature (see www.webyeshiva.org/rabbisaks).