asher63 (asher63) wrote,

'And the Crooked ...' - SY Agnon

'And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight', the debut novella by Shmuel Yosef "Shai" Agnon, is a tale of identity theft. But it's really an abdication: the self-absorbed and grandiose Menashe Chaim willingly sells his one article of monetary value - and with it, his good name - like Esau selling his birthright. To be sure, he duly agonizes over the decision, but never simply says "no" and walks away. This passivity and helplessness is Menashe Chaim's defining trait. "Even his climactic gesture of defiance and devotion ... [is] a decision not to act," notes translator Michael P. Kramer in the foreword. His final downfall (epitomized by the loss of his tefillin, symbolizing his bond to his religious and earthly responsibilities) is the logical culmination of his state of passivity. His wife Kreindel Charne will continue on without him. But effectively, Menashe Chaim is already "dead" at this point.
Tags: agnon, books

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