Robert Alter is the Class of 1937 Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley. His books include Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible and a translation of the Hebrew Bible.
 (April 2017)

IN THE REVIEW

The Great Genius of Jewish Literature

S.Y. Agnon, 1908

The Orange Peel and Other Satires

by S.Y. Agnon, translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey Saks

The Bridal Canopy

by S.Y. Agnon, translated from the Hebrew by I.M. Lask
S.Y. Agnon often presented himself to his readers and to the public eye as a modern avatar of Jewish tradition, writing in the very Hebrew in which it had been fashioned, expressing reverence for its sages and saints. But he also had a sense that there was a kinship between the artist and the outlaw. Agnon certainly cherished the knowledge that could be attained from sacred texts, and also, as an autodidact and the friend of modern scholars, he evinced some admiration for secular scholarship as an instrument of knowledge.