Shmuel Yosef Agnon

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Shmuel Yosef Agnon

Shmuel Yosef Agnon (July 17, 1888February 17, 1970) was a Nobel Prize laureate writer and was one of the central figures of modern Hebrew fiction.


  • The old man … received the Sabbath with sweet song and chanted the hallowing tunefully over raisin wine; while it was still day he hallowed and the sun came to gaze at his glass. … The table was well spread with all manner of fruit, beans, greenstuffs and good pies, plum water tasting like wine, but of flesh and of fish there was never a sign. … in truth it is in no way obligatory to eat flesh and fish … He and she, meaning the old man and the old woman, had never tasted flesh since growing to maturity.
    • The Bridal Canopy, translated by I. M. Lask, New York: Literary Guild of America, 1937, p. 222.
  • Lest I slight any creature, I must also mention the domestic animals, the beasts and birds from whom I have learned. Job said long ago (35:11): «Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, And maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?» Some of what I have learned from them I have written in my books, but I fear that I have not learned as much as I should have, for when I hear a dog bark, or a bird twitter, or a cock crow, I do not know whether they are thanking me for all I have told of them, or calling me to account.

Quotes about Shmuel Yosef Agnon[edit]

  • Once Jews no longer obeyed the imperatives of their religion, they were virtually obliged to create new forms of identity, turning accommodation from means to end. Literature was a proving ground for the reinvention of the self. One-tenth of the Nobel Prize winners for literature in the twentieth century were born Jews, but only two of them-Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1966) and Isaac Bashevis Singer (1978)-wrote in a Jewish language and only about half thought of themselves as Jews.

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