This is Agnon's first novel-length work, considered one of the first classics of modern Hebrew literature. It is often compared to Don Quixote in style, structure and theme. this novel features a series of interrelated folktales structured around the adventures of Reb Yudel Hasid, a man of apparent simplicity, but profound faith. This reissue of the original translation is accompanied by a new afterword and review of the critical literature. Translated by I.M. Lask, with a new forward by Jeffrey Saks.
S.Y. Agnon (1888–1970) was the central figure of modern Hebrew literature, and the 1966 Nobel Prize laureate for his body of writing. Born in the Galician town of Buczacz (in today’s western Ukraine), as Shmuel Yosef Czaczkes, he arrived in 1908 in Jaffa, Ottoman Palestine, where he adopted the penname Agnon and began a meteoric rise as a young writer. Between the years 1912 and 1924 he spent an extended sojourn in Germany, where he married and had two children, and came under the patronage of Shlomo Zalman Schocken and his publishing house, allowing Agnon to dedicate himself completely to his craft. After a house fire in 1924 destroyed his library and the manuscripts of unpublished writings, he returned to Jerusalem where he lived for the remainder of his life. His works deal with the conflict between traditional Jewish life and language and the modern world, and constitute a distillation of millennia of Jewish writing – from the Bible through the Rabbinic codes to Hasidic storytelling – recast into the mold of modern literature.