in Agnon’s Story

This book would not have been possible without the generous cooperation and assistance of many fine people all over the world. The following people have been especially helpful to me: David Aaron, Alba Arikha, Noga Arikha, Anne Atik Arikha, Ludovic Bouvier, Ina Cohen, Sarah Diamant, Alexandra Dunai, Aliza Disatnik, Racheli Edelman, Martin Edelmann, Tommy Eriksson, Alexandra Kowalski Everist, Frank Felsenstein, Gun-Britt Forsberg Roecklein, Maynard Gerber, Ruth Hacohen, Gert Jager, Dov Kaplan, Klaudia Krenn, Astrid Krüger, Marina Lienert, Henrik Liljegren, Carl-Erhard Lindahl, Elin Lindström, Mikael Lundholm, Sarah Mandel, Stéphanie Méchine, Yisrael (Jeremy) Meyerowitz, Jon Mills, the late Alan Mintz, Michelle Moreau-Ricaud, Morton Narrowe, Jan Ottosson, Bram Oudenampsen, Jennifer Pavelko, Rami Pinchover, Yehuda Pinchover, Kevin Proffitt, Pim Rietbroek, Chris Rohmann, Jona Rosenfeld, Daniel Rutberg, the late Dov Sadan, Ruth Saunders, Jerry Schwarzbard, Detlef Streitenberger, Joseph Weber, Rafael Weiser, the late Emuna Yaron, and Baruch Yonin.

I owe an important scholarly debt to Arnold Band, whose book Nostalgia and Nightmare of 1968 pioneered the psychoanalytic approach in English to Agnon’s works, and to David Aberbach, who continued Band’s efforts in North America. Another very important debt is to Yosef Galron-Goldschlager, the Israeli-American compiler of the online Lexicon of Modern Hebrew Literature, whose thorough bibliographical work has been a tremendous help.

Last but not least, I am grateful to my Israeli colleague Dan Laor for the extensive archival research he conducted for his Hebrew-language Agnon biography. While it was published twenty years ago, Laor’s book, its endnotes, and its references are invaluable to any Agnon scholar. They have saved me much technical labor and allowed me to focus my scholarly energies on the psychoanalytic reading of Agnon’s life and work. Laor’s book is, of course, a secondary source. I have followed Laor’s chronology, and, where his book cites interviews he conducted with people who knew Agnon, I have used it as my primary source. In every other case, however, I have cited my own and Laor’s primary sources, rather than his book, while adding a reference to his text where it might be helpful. Like every large-scale scholarly work, Laor’s book is not without its factual errors and incorrect citations, which I have attempted to avoid. Above all, while telling a similar factual story, my interpretations are very different from Laor’s.

Despite repeated checking, double-checking and copy-editing, this book inevitably contains errors. The responsibility for them is mine alone.

Agnon’s Story

A Psychoanalytic Biography of S. Y. Agnon