Agnon’s Story

A Psychoanalytic Biography of S. Y. Agnon


This is the first complete psychoanalytic biography of the Nobel-Prize-winning Hebrew writer S.Y. Agnon. It seeks to uncover the hidden links between his stories and his biography. In particular, it investigates how his early infantile ties to an ailing, depressive and self-centered mother, persisted throughout his life and affected his entire literary work. At a very young age, Agnon became attached to his mother in a deeply ambivalent symbiotic relationship. As a young man he sought to break out of it by immigrating from Austrian Galicia to “the Land of Israel,” his symbolic good mother. His mother died shortly after he left her, and he felt guilty about her death. This affected his entire life and his most important literary works. His lifelong quest for the Nobel Prize, which he finally won at the age of seventy-nine, was not only a matter of narcissistic grandiosity but also an unconscious quest for the mother’s love that he never received.
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Biographical Note

Dr. Avner Falk is an internationally-known scholar in psychohistory and political psychology. He studied clinical psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Washington University in St. Louis. After returning to Israel in 1971 he worked for three decades as a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in Jerusalem. He has published ten scholarly books, including psychoanalytic biographies of Moshe Dayan, David Ben-Gurion, Theodor Herzl, Napoleon Bonaparte and Barack Obama. His book Fratricide in the Holy Land: A Psychoanalytic View of the Arab-Israeli Conflict won an award from Choice magazine.


Scholars of Hebrew literature, Agnon scholars, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, literary scholars, Jews, and the general educated reading public.