Fun Facts Friday: S.Y. Agnon

S.Y. Agnon – ש”י עגנון (17 July, 1888 – 17 February, 1970) was an Israeli author, a Noble Prize winner, and one of the central figures in modern Israeli literature.

Books by Shmuel Yosef Agnon*
Books by Shmuel Yosef Agnon*

  1. Shmuel Yosef Halevi Czaczkes in Buczacz, Poland. His father, Shalom Mordechai Halevy, was a rabbi and worked in the fur trade.
  2. As a child, he was homeschooled studying Jewish texts, Hebrew, Yiddish, and German. At age 15 he had published his first poem in Yiddish. Later he continued to write and publish poems in both Hebrew and Yiddish.
  3. In 1908, the author moved to Jaffa (part of the Ottoman Empire at the time) and published his first story Agunot (“Moored Women”) the journal Ha-Omer. Deriving from the story, he used the nom de plume Agnon, and adopted as his official name in 1924.
  4. The author moved to Germany in 1913 and married Esther Marx in 1920. The couple had two children.
  5. While in Germany, a businessman named Salman Schocken took Mr. Agnon under his wing, giving him space to write without worrying about money. He published his books under Schocken Books, and stories in Haaretz newspaper, also owned, at the time, by the Schocken family.
  6. In 1924 Agnon returned to Palestine, settling in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem.
  7. Mr. Agnon was twice awarded the Bialik Prize for literature in 1934 and 1950, as well as  the Israel Prize, for literature in 1954 and 1958.
  8. The author was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1966, “for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people”.
  9. At the height of his fame the city closed his street for cars after he complained that the noise bothers him, posting assign that said: No entry to all vehicles, writer at work!
  10. After his death, his home was turned into a museum called Beit Agnon (בית עגנון) – Agnon House. The author was also featured on the Israeli fifty shekel bill.

Books by Shmuel Yosef Agnon*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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