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Only yesterday

Author: Shmuel Yosef Agnon; Barbara Harshav
Publisher: Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, ©2000.
Edition/Format:   Book : Fiction : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Israeli Nobel Laureate S.Y. Agnon's famous masterpiece, his novel Only Yesterday, here appears in English translation for the first time. Published in 1945, the book tells a seemingly simple tale about a man who immigrates to Palestine with the Second Aliya -- the several hundred idealists who returned between 1904 and 1914 to work the Hebrew soil as in Biblical times and revive Hebrew culture. Only Yesterday
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Genre/Form: Fiction
Allegories
Material Type: Fiction, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Shmuel Yosef Agnon; Barbara Harshav
ISBN: 0691009724 9780691009728
OCLC Number: 43323691
Notes: Translation of: Temol shilshom.
Description: xxxi, 652 p. ; 25 cm.
Contents: The only yesterday of only yesterday / Benjamin Harshav --
Translator's Note --
A delightsome land --
Jerusalem --
From one issue to another --
Epilogue.
Other Titles: Temol shilshom.
Responsibility: S.Y. Agnon ; translated by Barbara Harshav.
More information:

Abstract:

Israeli Nobel Laureate S.Y. Agnon's famous masterpiece, his novel Only Yesterday, here appears in English translation for the first time. Published in 1945, the book tells a seemingly simple tale about a man who immigrates to Palestine with the Second Aliya -- the several hundred idealists who returned between 1904 and 1914 to work the Hebrew soil as in Biblical times and revive Hebrew culture. Only Yesterday quickly became recognized as a monumental work of world literature, but not only for its vivid historical reckon of Israel's founding society. This epic novel also engages the reader in a fascinating network of meanings, contradictions, and paradoxes all leading to the question, what, if anything, controls human existence?

Seduced by Zionist slogans, young Isaac Kumer imagines the Land of Israel filled with the financial, social, and erotic opportunities that were denied him, the son of an impoverished shopkeeper, in Poland. Once there, he cannot find the agricultural work he anticipated. Instead Isaac happens upon house-painting jobs as he moves from secular, Zionist Jaffa, where the ideological fervor and sexual freedom are alien to him, to ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist Jerusalem. While some of his Zionist friends turn capitalist, becoming successful merchants, his own life remains adrift and impoverished in a land torn between idealism and practicality, a place that is at once homeland and diaspora. Eventually he marries a religious woman in Jerusalem, after his worldly girlfriend in Jaffa rejects him.

Led astray by circumstances, Isaac always ends up in the place opposite of where he wants to be, but why? The text soars to Surrealist-Kafkaesque dimensions when, in a playfulmode, Isaac drips paint on a stray dog, writing "Crazy Dog" on his back. Causing panic wherever he roams, the dog takes over the story, until, after enduring persecution for so long without"understanding" why, he really does go mad and Isaac. The dog has been interpreted as everything from the embodiment of Exile to a daemonic force, and becomes an unforgettable character in a book about the death of God, the deception of discourse, the power of suppressed eroticism, and the destiny of a people depicted in all its darkness and promise.

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