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A Simple Story

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  151 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Originally published in Hebrew 50 years ago, this is the not-so-simple story of a bygone time and place, about passion and the wisdom of community. The author asserts his values of community in a story rich in biblical allusion and redolent of the society in which he was raised.
Paperback, 246 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Syracuse University Press (first published 1935)
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Rachel Terry
Nov 18, 2009 Rachel Terry rated it it was amazing
This is the first author in our alphabetical march through the Nobel Literary Prize winners. I had never even heard of Shmuel Agnon before I read this book. I think he won the prize in 1966, but this novel was written in 1935.

It's set in a Jewish Polish town that's being pulled by different forces: the Kaiser, socialists, Zionists. But all of those forces are just background to the "love story" that moves the plot. I put love story in quotation marks because I think it's actually an anti-love st
Shmuel Yosef Agnon ha vinto il premio Nobel per la letteratura nel 1966, ma io, ignorantona come sono, non l’avevo mai sentito nominare. Non conoscendolo, dunque, non ho idea se questo sia tra i suoi scritti migliori oppure no.

Di certo ha un andamento assai caratteristico. A tratti, sembra quasi un’antica nenia, con frasi e periodi che si ripetono con parole praticamente identiche. A volte ci sono dialoghi che, suppongo, abbiano sottintesi comici, ma che a me sono sfuggiti, perché non conosco a
Krisette Spangler
Mar 29, 2011 Krisette Spangler rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This novel has so many layers that I would have to read it a few more times to really grasp all that the writer is trying to convey. Hirshl is a young Jewish man who is in love with his poor cousin. His parent have other ideas, Hirshl finds himself in an arranged marriage. It's sad on many marriages were contracted rather than allowed to grow out of mutual love and affection.

The novel has many characters, and the author allows you to meet many of them. It's a fascinating character study and a li
A Simple Story is one of the cornerstones of Hebrew literature. It's a book that seems to start in one direction and then goes off in another, looking at many aspects of Eastern European Jewish culture from an age ago: the developments, the changes, the traditions that remained, the people... It is vividly accurate in many places - its portrayal of generation divides, for instance, is quite excellent - but is also often flat. Characters aren't particularly three-dimensional and there's a feeling ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Betsy rated it liked it
The author, Agnon, developed the characters well enough that I was willing to complete the book. However I did not find anything particularly interesting about the plot. It might be a case of reading an OK book in the midst of great books, or of a strong writer with an average plot.
Sep 03, 2015 Mindy added it
East European Ashkenazic romantic angst. A fluid tale and perhaps more common than other stories.
Jun 06, 2015 K C rated it really liked it
Delightful. The descriptions were like looking at a naive art painting - colorful and full of life. And the story - about as simple as peeling an onion, layer by layer - was equally enchanting, if a bit stilted.
Set in Poland in the early 1900's this is an immersion into a totally different way of life, with all the Jewish names, foods, holidays, prayers, Biblical references, and customs. It is most interesting for all that background information, rather than for the story itself which is, well, very simple.
Jul 28, 2008 M rated it liked it
If I could I would add half a star, it's an engaging read and at times humorous in that old world polish sort of way - read it for the book club and it didnt generate too much discussion - but anyway it was a pleasant and well paced novel, i would recommend it as a decent light read.
Liora Sophie
Oct 02, 2012 Liora Sophie rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 23, 2008 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school

Well, I had to read it for an exam I had in Literature..
Maybe that was the reason I didn't realy liked it. Tasks always look plain and boring.

I found the story sad, depressing and disappointing.. it just left me with a horrible feeling of emptiness.
Jan 09, 2016 Dan rated it really liked it
the first few chapters are beautiful, but the book starts to wander from there. It really is a simple story. Interesting to read a Hebrew/Israeli Yiddish story - definitely felt different.
Apr 16, 2008 Shelley rated it liked it
It was indeed very simple,naive and old-fashioned. It felt like a visit to grandma's house, filled with doilies and stale sweets.
Alain added it
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Guilherme Carvalho
Guilherme Carvalho rated it it was amazing
Jun 22, 2016
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May 27, 2016
Julio R. Aramberri
Julio R. Aramberri rated it really liked it
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Apr 26, 2016
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Mar 17, 2016
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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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