Tales of longing

A reissued translation of S.Y. Agnon’s ‘Only Yesterday’ showcases the complicated tapestry of the author’s thoughts

By ELAINE MARGOLIN
June 20, 2018 21:43
4 minute read.
A VIEW of buildings on King George Avenue in Jerusalem in 1945

A VIEW of buildings on King George Avenue in Jerusalem in 1945. (photo credit: JNF/GPO)

 
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S.Y. Agnon, the 1966 Nobel prize winner and iconic Israeli writer, infused his Zionistic zeal as well as his Orthodox shtetl upbringing into all of his many works. His old-fashioned Hebrew and archaic tone is present on every page of his masterpiece Only Yesterday, but so is a yearning that can only be described as secular and transgressive.

The book was originally written in 1945 and translated into English by Barbara Harshav in 2000. It is now being reissued with a foreword by Adam Kirsch and an introduction by Benjamin Harshav.

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