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Only Yesterday
S. Y. Agnon
Translated by Barbara Harshav

Book Description | Table of Contents
Prologue | Chapter 1


"[A] scathing vision of God and man, Zionism and Jewish history, desire and guilt, language, and meaning . . . a novel that deserves comparison with Franz Kafka's The Trial . . . Its appearance in English now, delayed for half a century by the formidable difficulties of translating its Hebrew, makes available to American readers a work of powerful, and eccentric, originality."--Robert Alter, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"An immense ragbag of a book, full of insight and poetry, tending to surrealism, not to say mythology, mannered and even precious in style, discursive, and all told with a cleverness that opens up a number of possible meanings."--David Pryce-Jones, The Spectator

"Never before available in English, a masterpiece of the picaresque by the Nobel laureate who is arguably the greatest novelist in modern Hebrew. Fifty-five years after this epic tale's initial publication, Harshav provides an eloquent translation, successfully capturing Agnon's carefully nuanced and bitter humor. . . . One of the finest novels of this century."--Kirkus Reviews

"This is one of the central works of modern Jewish culture. . . . [It] is fascinating and engrossing and Barbara Harshav has handled the imposing task of translation with aplomb, creating an unfussy, clean equivalent to Agnon's idiosyncratic Hebrew style."--Alan Mintz, The Forward

"A brilliant epic of a simple man's quest for the Promised Land . . . . This is a work so rich and allusive, so real and yet so strange, that despite its exalted place in the canon of one of the 20th century's major artists, it's not surprising that no one had undertaken until now the formidable challenge of translating it into English. . . . [In] a lively and accessible translation by Barbara Harshav. . . . [s]he uncannily captures the highly idiosyncratic voice and lilt, the full measure of provincialism and sophistication, of the master. . . . For this miracle of a translation, which brings Agnon's original Hebrew vividly to life, we can only be grateful."--Tova Reich, Washington Post Bookworld

"There are flashes of steely observation . . . as well as delight, sadness, disgust, hauteur, pity, cruelty and a whole range of other such opposing yet confluent emotions and states of being . . . plainly a labor of love."--Dan Jacobson, The New York Review of Books

"The novel is crammed with bewitching characters and amazing episodes. Even in translation, its unique style is irresistible."--Gerald Kaufman, Sunday Telegraph

"Only Yesterday was first published in 1945, but it is just as timely today. . . Barbara Hershey's translation-the first ever in English-is thoroughly smooth and enjoyable. She succeeds in preserving Agnon's unique style, Voltaire-like witticism, and literary beauty."--Alexander Zvielli, The Jerusalem Post

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File created: 4/21/2017

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