5 November 2010 “They are all from Agnon...” – the second “Reading Lesson” is behind us!

Yesterday, at noon at Wyspiański Pavilion, around thirty students from the high schools of Krakow, as well as quite a large group of older lovers of literary adventures, took part in another festival “Reading Lesson”. The chief editor of the monthly “Midrasz” and author of the awarded “Pensjonat” – Piotr Paziński – embodied himself in the role of a guide. The host reminded at the very beginning that the premiere of “Reading Lesson with...” was held during the first International Joseph Conrad Literary Festival last year. A series of meetings for high school students, during which they have the opportunity to meet university professors, writers, essayists, philosophers and publishers, has become known not only in Krakow, but in the whole of Poland, receiving distinctions and nominations, among others, to this year's Student Journalist Awards “MediaTory” in the category “Reformator” [Reformer].

Paziński presented to the audience the novel by Samuel Joseph Agnon titled “Agunot”. This outstanding Israeli prose writer was born on 8 August 1887 in Buchach on the territory of former Galicia, he died on 17 February 1970 in Jerusalem. His work, forgotten today, was honoured by the Nobel Prize in the field of literature for the year 1966 (that same year, the literary Nobel prize was also granted to Celan’s friend – Nelly Sachs). Agnon was the author of novels and stories presenting the Hasidic environment at the turn of the XIX and XX century. His work is completely unknown, like Paziński emphasised. The participants of the “Reading Lesson” used the translation done by the author of “Pensjonat”.
The host was convincing that Agnon’s works require adequate attention and concentration from the reader. Before beginning the book, it is necessary to activate many contexts – such as kabala, midrashes, the Bible, as well as cultural and literary tradition – simplifying and enlightening the sometimes dark and mysterious world of novels and stories of the writer from Buchach.

During the recent meeting with Amos Oz – one of the most famous contemporary Israeli writers – he revealed that he is a huge fan of Agnon’s works; he knew him personally and dedicated a few critic texts to him. During yesterday’s “Reading Lesson”, Paziński commented the influence of his writing on Hebrew literature with the short statement: “They are all from Agnon”.

The next reading lesson will be dedicated to the author of “The Fugue of Death” – to Celan. Michał Paweł Markowski, artistic director of the Conrad Festival, will host it. We invite you today at 12 p.m. to the National Museum.