Shai Agnon: A Mystery Wrapped Up in an Enigma

Truth is sometimes indistinguishable from fiction.

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Agnon died in 1970, and has become an Israeli icon. Agnon's house in Talpiyot, a neighborhood in Jerusalem, is a tourist site today. One can visit the lectern at which he stood when he wrote his stories, as well as the many volumes of Jewish and world literature on his shelves. His life and work has become symbolic of the hopes and longing of the Jewish state, a state that is at once ancient and modern. And as Agnon's literature so eloquently expresses, it is a state still caught between different worlds, in some ways belonging to neither.

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Beverly Bailis is a Revson Fellow and doctoral candidate in modern Jewish literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she specializes in Hebrew and Yiddish modernism.