Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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replies, “Your dog bit me.” Acquainted as we are with Nagel’s
unreliable personality, we cannot escape the conclusion that he
pretends to be bitten in order to draw Dagny’s erotic attention.
The same pattern is repeated in
Glahn meets Eva, who
tries to attract him. He notices that her finger is bandaged. “What
happened to your finger?,” he asks. “Your dog bit me,” she
replies. Glahn is suspicious; he examines her bandaged finger
and discovers that she bit her finger herself. Without uttering a
word, he leads her to his hut.
The Hamsunian pattern of pretending to be bitten by the
beloved one’s dog so as to prevent sexual rejection was also con­
sciously adopted by Agnon. In the story, “In the Prime of Her
Life,” Tirtsa, the narrator-heroine, uses the same device in order
to persuade Mazal, the hesitating beloved one, to fall into her
erotic net:
“As I was walking in the forest, I recognized Mazal’s dog facing me
and barking. I bandaged my hand with a handkerchief. As Mazal
arrived, he noticed my bandaged hand and seemed frightened.
‘What happened to your hand,?’he asked, shivering. ‘Your dog bit
me,’ I answered. ‘Please, help me to tighten the bandage.’ His
hands were trembling. Suddenly, I broke out laughing, ‘Nothing
sir, no dog, no wound!’He stared at me as though trying to decide
whether to shout or laugh.”
Thus, the presence in Agnon’s work of two uniquely Hamsun­
ian patterns based on the dog as a symbol of erotic failure — the
conversion of the rejected lover’s attitude from hostility to affec­
tion toward the threatening dog, and the rejected lover’s scheme
to fake a dog bite by the beloved one’s dog — in strikingly similar
circumstances, upholds the claim of influence. As mentioned
above, the symbol of the dog is a conventional one. But its distinc­
tive formulation by Hamsun is far from being conventional, and
since Agnon adopted the peculiarly Hamsunian versions of the
dog motif, the claim of conscious influence becomes incontro­
As indicated, Hamsun inspired Agnon not only in themes and
motifs, but also in structure. The “horizontal” structure — seen
especially in
in which Hamsun abandons