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Only Yesterday

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4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  163 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Israeli Nobel Laureate S.Y. Agnon's famous masterpiece, his novel Only Yesterday, here appears in English translation for the first time. Published in 1945, the book tells a seemingly simple tale about a man who immigrates to Palestine with the Second Aliya--the several hundred idealists who returned between 1904 and 1914 to work the Hebrew soil as in Biblical times and re ...more
Paperback, 688 pages
Published March 24th 2002 by Princeton University Press (first published 1945)
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FiveBooks
Mar 08, 2010 FiveBooks rated it it was amazing
Writer Alon Hilu has chosen to discuss S Y Agnon's Only Yesterday, on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Israel and Palestine in Art, saying that:

"Shmuel Agnon is the only Israeli writer who has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is still regarded as the best writer in modern Hebrew literature. This book takes place in Jaffa between the end of the 19th century and the start of the First World War. I read it three times to get the atmosphere and spirit of the place at that tim
...more
Jim Talbott
Jul 29, 2011 Jim Talbott rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, male-author
This is probably the most accessible Agnon novel that I've read. In some ways I found it less affecting than Guest for the Night because I'm living in exile outside Israel rather than living in exile inside Israel, but when read together, they beautifully bookend the predicament of being a Jew. Whether to make Aliyah or not, and the impossibility of escaping exile in either case. It is, however, ironic that in Agnon's books, exile is heavily tinged with the misery of poverty, while today, our ex ...more
Jim Leffert
Aug 04, 2014 Jim Leffert rated it really liked it
Reading Only Yesterday in translation is not ideal. Still, a fair amount of the flavor of Agnon’s style, including his frequent references to traditional Jewish sources, comes through. Only Yesterday is a lengthy satiric novel about the Second Aliyah—the movement of idealistic Jewish youth from Europe to Palestine during the 1905-1914 period.

Like Agnon, the protagonist, Isaac Kumer, comes from an Eastern European Orthodox family. In rebellion against his widower father, Isaac insists on going t
...more
Scott Cox
Israeli Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon's 600 page tome is one that I would like to re-read. It pertains to what is called the second "Aliya," Zionists that came to Palestine during the period between 1904 and 1914. The only scene I remember is when the local stray dog had the label "Crazy Dog" painted on its back. This caused quite a stir as it roamed around town. I'm sure Agnon used this to symbolize the struggle for those who live in exile.
Cooper Renner
Aug 20, 2013 Cooper Renner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable book. Written in a kind of casual inviting tone, slyly humorous, gently mocking and self-deprecating. In some ways a history--but in a very offbeat way--of the lives of young Zionists in Israel in the years just before World War I. Arguably a Modernist masterwork, arguably a sui generis masterwork. Sometimes Biblical in its rhythms, sometimes reminiscent of the classical epic.
Joel Palma
Apr 22, 2016 Joel Palma rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
One of the best works of fiction I’ve ever read!

My “triad” best novels have been broken… Now there are four: Solzhenitsyn’s “Cancer Ward”, Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, Mistry’s “A Fine Balance” and S Y Agnon’s “Only Yesterday”.

First off, how I wish I could read and understand Hebrew- the beauty and lyrics of the English translation was prodigious- what more on its original language!

Two moods of experiences I had with the writing style:

First, it was written like you are meditating- the passages ar
...more
Rachel
May 12, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: jewish-fiction
DONE! Man, I don't think I've ever taken so long to get through a book, even when I wasn't reading as many a year as I am presently.

I didn't want to rush this novel, but I'm still concerned by what I might be missing. The language was, at times, archaic and infantile, and often featured long blocks of detailed, quoteless dialogue. The entire story was quite detailed, as we first dove into daily affairs of Isaac's Zionist life in Jaffa, and then his religious life in Jerusalem--over 600 pages tot
...more
David
As issues in Israel always are sizzling I was curious to explore this novel about an early Kibbutz pioneer during a time when Zionist ideology was fresh and liberating. In Only Yesterday Agnon writes about Isaac Kumer a pretty neutral character that floats around from place to place always surrounded by various existential debates. Set in the early 1900s, Isaac starts in Galicia, Ukraine surrounded by Zionists and anti-Zionists, many discussing the advantages and dangers of leaving Ukraine and i ...more
Leka
Qualcosa di assolutamente personale

Che dire di questo libro che A.B. Yehoshua definisce l'opera più significativa nella storia della letteratura ebraica del XX secolo?
Apparirebbe, ogni parola, assolutamente inadeguata.

Tenterò allora di sillabare almeno che cosa è stato questo libro per me.
Di ritorno da Gerusalemme, un'amica me lo ha regalato per il mio compleanno, senza sapere che, poco prima del mio rientro, nel locale che deve il nome a questo romanzo, Tmol Shilshom (http://www.tmol-shilshom
...more
Paul
Jan 26, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I wanted to read a book that many consider to be Agnon’s masterpiece, as well as others who claim it to be one of the finest examples of modern Hebrew literature. I was not disappointed at all. It took me quite a while to finish ‘Only Yesterday’ as apart from being particularly busy in recent weeks, I found that I wanted to read each page quite slowly, savouring the folkloric language and making sure that I had fully absorbed what the author wanted to say.

On the surface this is a tale of one man
...more
Jeffrey Cohan
Dec 13, 2010 Jeffrey Cohan rated it liked it
Shelves: judaism, israel
Jeopardy time.

Writers for $400, Alex.

Answer: The only Israeli to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Who is Amos Oz?

Wrong. He's never won a Nobel, but he might someday.

Who is Isaac Bashevis Singer?

Wrong. He won a Nobel, but he certainly wasn't Israeli.

If you answered, Who is S.Y. Agnon?, you were correct.

As a lover of literature and a lover of Israel, I felt compelled to tackle Agnon's opus "Only Yesterday." And I'm glad I did, even if there were long passages in which I felt something must have
...more
Keith Wilson
Oct 10, 2013 Keith Wilson rated it really liked it
Anyone with an interest in contemporary Israeli politics should read this epic novel by the Nobel Prize winning author, SY Agnon, despite the fact that it's set a hundred years ago, before the state was formed. It follows a young Galacian Zionist as he "ascends the land of Israel." The translation I read seems to preserve the archaic feel of Agnon's original Hebrew.

Most of the tension of the book is centered around the conflict between secular Jaffa and religious Jerusalem. It's plain that the
...more
Harry Rutherford
Sep 25, 2011 Harry Rutherford rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-east, europe
S.Y. Agnon is apparently a key figure in Israeli literature, and Only Yesterday is very much a novel about Israel. But it is my book from Ukraine for the Read The World challenge.

My reasons for assigning the book to Ukraine were basically pragmatic—there wasn’t an alternative from Ukraine which sprang out at me, and I felt like reading something more contemporary for Israel—but it’s quite fitting anyway. It’s a novel about the early waves of modern Jewish settlers to Palestine at the start of th
...more
Robert Wechsler
Apr 11, 2013 Robert Wechsler rated it it was amazing
Except for the last section, which follows the peregrinations of a dog ad nauseum (although still brilliant), the novel is close to perfect.

The novel is not about plot or even character, although there is a hero of sorts (other than the dog, whos more symbol than character), a young immigrant to Israel from Poland who stumbles into orthodoxy (and, of course, a woman).

The translation of this difficult novel is fantastic.
...more
Carolyn
Aug 31, 2012 Carolyn rated it liked it
I would like and online book group to talk about this book. I love it but it's slow going.
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174039
aka Shmuel Yosef Agnon or Shai Agnon

Awarded the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people." (Award shared with Nelly Sachs.) He died in Jerusalem, Israel.
More about S.Y. Agnon...

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