"A valuable study whose strength lies in its masterful close readings of Agnon’s work, as well as its comprehensive and relevant overview of post-structural theories of language and authorship."—Sheila E. Jelen, University of Maryland
Nobel Prize–winning author S. Y. Agnon was the foremost Hebrew writer of the twentieth century. His work navigated the world of Jewish tradition and that of secular modernity, capturing the conflict between old and new. In Language, Absence, Play, Yaniv Hagbi explores Agnon’s theological and philosophical attitudes toward language, attitudes that to a large extent shaped his poetics and aesthetic values. Drawing on anthologies of traditional Jewish texts compiled by Agnon, among others, Hagbi examines his theoretical orientation and the way he integrated into his poetics ideas about language that are rooted in Jewish theology. In doing so, Hagbi casts light on profound parallels between religiously inspired Jewish hermeneutics and the language-centered superstructuralist theories that have dominated academic discourse in the humanities from the mid–twentieth century.
With deep insight and lucid prose, Language, Absence, Play demonstrates how the traditional and the contemporary forces shaping Agnon’s literary art inform and transform each other.
Yaniv Hagbi teaches in the Department of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Jewish Studies at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of the novel The Yemenite Guide for the Writing of Legends. The Hebrew version of Language, Absence, Play was published in 2007.
6 x 9, 248 pages