‘And His Heart, a Precious Violin': The Musical Layering of S. Y. Agnon's Yiddish Story ‘Toytntants'

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Abstract

The 1908 Yiddish story “Toytntants” was the last creation of the young Galician author Shmuel Yosef Halevi Czaczkes before his transformation into S. Y. Agnon of the Land of Israel. The story, which can be understood as a farewell to the romanticsentimental style identified by Agnon with his writing in Yiddish, was also his longest and most elaborate creation in either Yiddish or Hebrew up to the time of its writing. It stands in sharp contrast to the “single-storied” structure of Agnon's previous tales, some of which were even integrated into “Toytntants.” This article analyzes Agnon's use of “musicalization” in the text, a phenomenon that scholars have also identified in James Joyce's writings. When read in historical context, “Toytntants” reveals new aspects of the cultural atmosphere in which Agnon lived while he resided in Galicia.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)127-144
JournalJewish Social Studies
Volume18
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

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