Page 86 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
the monkey, and here follows the sad story o f his life. When Hillel
finds out tha t Adolph is actually a survivor from the d o n o r ’s
hometown it is too late, for by then the money which was changed
into Israeli pounds is worth less due to the inflation. Adolph dies
and Hillel takes charge o f the hu rdy -gu rdy and the two animals.
He also inherits A do lph ’s expectation fo r the re tu rn o f his
nephew from Syrian imprisonment. This is the slim th read o f
messianic hope on which the story hangs. T he re is much bitter
criticism here against co rrup tion and g reed among Jews in
Europe, America, and Israel. But although stress is laid on m an ’s
sin, Agnon finds it h a rd to regard the Holocaust as pun ishm en t
from God. In his effo rt at arriving at a theodicy he laments m an ’s
shortcomings as well as his total inability to fathom God’s ways.
T h e collection entitled
Pithey Devarim
includes a few unfin ished
pieces, some short-short ones, and the story
Kenagen Hamenagen
(When the Player Played), which had its origin in the novel
Temol
Shilshom
(Only Yesterday), whose m inor characters it employs.
The story is set in Ja ffa and reflects upon the quality o f life in
Israel which is described as steeped in secularity. T he people who
take a walk in the story seem indeed to be sinking in sand, and the
Hebrew word for sand —
hoi
stands also for secularity, the oppo ­
site o f
kodesh
(holiness). The nation’s straying from God may take
on the form o f es trangem en t (a recu rr ing symbol in A gnon ’s
works), and there are a few divorces mentioned in the story. T he
most importan t o f these concern a famous violinist whose re tu rn
is awaited by the whole country, including his two fo rm e r wives.
T he happy end ing implies the fulfillment o f a prophetic vision:
T he famous violinist, who is a messianic figure, re tu rn s to Israel,
and remarries both his form er wives. His concert brings all the
Jews together and raises the people o f Israel above all nations.
BETWEEN FACT AND FICTION
While
M e’atzmi El Atzmi
and
Sefer, Sofer ve’Sippur
are strictly
non-fiction,
Iru-Meloah
and
Korot Bateynu
are mixtures o f fact and
fiction.
Me’atzmi El Atzmi
must have origina ted in Agnon’s desire to set
the record straight about himself, his views, his likes and dislikes,
combined perhaps with a penchan t for self-glorification. Agnon
compiled it with the intention o f publication and perhaps it th e re ­
fore lacks the intimacy one m igh t hope to discover in such