Auction 42 - Rare and Important Items

Collection of Letters by Shmuel Yosef Agnon to the Poet Tuvya Ruebner

Opening: $3,000
Sold for: $3,750
Including buyer's premium
20 letters sent by Shmuel Yosef Agnon from his home in the neighborhood of Talpiot, Jerusalem, to the poet Tuvya Ruebner, living in Merhavia, and during his stay in Zurich, Switzerland. The 1960s.
This collection of letters reflects the relationship and close friendship Agnon and his wife shared with Ruebner (who was forty years younger than Agnon) as well as the deep esteem Agnon felt towards Ruebner, both as a poet and as a translator.
In the letters Agnon asks about Ruebner's health, thanks him for his translation, sometimes makes slight remark concerning the style of the translation ("If you find the translations worthy then keep them, and if you don't dismiss them") and especially entreating Ruebner to come and visit his home in Jerusalem, where they could sit and converse at length.
In between the lines Agnon's particular character emerges, through his own personal statements of himself ("you know what an egoistic person I am"), and through his telling about his day-to-day inconveniences and thoughts which occupy him in different affairs.
Following are a few segments from the letters:
• "Dear Mr. Ruebner, I was tired on that night when I first met you and I didn’t even manage to get to our own business. I hope that what we couldn't do then we will make up another time soon. However, already now I can tell you that I was glad to meet you… You have conducted your lecture about Leah Goldberg very nicely indeed. It is fitting for a poet to be talked about by a poet".
• "I do not know if I mentioned to you when we talked, how hard it is for me to write letters. If you come to visit me I am quite happy to sit with you days and nights. And if I do in fact write back to you, I do this only for the sake of your honor".
• "To Tuvya Ruebner, Hallo dear poet, Eleven days have passed already and I still haven't thanked you for the pleasure you gave me with your translation for the story Two Tales ["Shevuat Emunim"]… Are you in good health? I fear that a day's reading might have caused you some harm, G-d forbid. You are a wonderful reader. I have never yet heard such wonderful reading in Hebrew. The Hebrew readers either read like Hazanim or they have this 'sticky style', or they are so sentimental that the spirit is sick and tired of them".
• "I had so many guests coming by that I was detained from returning the proofreading-pages for my new book and from doing my work. And these guests carry another fault with them, that they drive my thoughts to their own business, against my will". And in another letter: "Tuvya, I am wasting my time. All kinds of people bother me, not sparing me or my time. And if I do finally find an opportunity to sit down and work, or – as people rudely say - when the holy spirit rests on me, I must stop what I do because of these bothering folks".
• “I fear, for example, that readers in foreign languages will not accept the novel “A Guest for the Night” [“Oreach Nata Lalun”] favorably. For this book fits more the Jews who read Hebrew or Yiddish, who know their own people and its ways. It is not meant for the other nations, for whom most of these things are foreign, and no explanation will do”.
At the back of one of the letters Dr. Moshe Spitzer has added some lines of his own.
15 letters written by hand, 5 letters typed in a type-machine and signed (occasionally with some additional lines written by hand). Enclosed also is a letter from Hemdat Agnon and a letter from Agnon, which was written down by somebody else. Some of the original envelopes are included in the collection.
Size and condition vary. Overall good condition. Folding marks and spotting. Archive stamping marks and a serial number written with pen.
Category
Rare and Important Items