Agnon, S. Y. (Shmuel Yosef Agnon)shmōˈĕl yōˈsəf ägnōnˈ; yōˈzəf, 1888–1970, Israeli writer, b. Buczacz, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Buchach, Ukraine), as Samuel Josef Czaczkes. Widely regarded as the greatest 20th-century writer of fiction in Hebrew, he shared (with Nelly Sachs) the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature. Agnon settled in Palestine in 1907 and spent most of his life in Jerusalem. His fiction explores Jewish existence from late-18th- and early-19th-century E Europe shtels and the declining Jewish culture of the late 19th cent. to the post–World War I period and the lives of immigrants in Palestine and Israel. Although he initially wrote in both Hebrew and Yiddish, eventually he wrote in Hebrew alone. His novels, which range in approach from the realistic to the surreal, include Hakhnasat kalah (1919, tr. The Bridal Canopy, 1967), the autobiographical Ore'ah Nata' Lalun (1938, tr. A Guest for the Night, 1968), 'Tmol shilshom (1945, tr. Only Yesterday, 2000), and Ad Hena (1952, tr. To This Day, 2008), his last novel. Agnon is also acclaimed for his short stories, which have been translated into English in Days of Awe (1938, tr. 1948), 21 Stories (1970), and Jaffa, Belle of the Seas (1998).
See biographies by H. Fisch (1975) and G. Shaked (1989); studies by A. J. Band (1968), B. Hochman (1970), J. Kaspi (1972), D. Aberbach (1984), A. G. Hoffman (1991), N. Ben-Dov (1993), H. Barzel and H. Weiss, ed. (1996), M. Roshwald (1996), and S. Katz (1999).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.