restricted access "As He Had Betrayed the Land, So He Betrayed His Betrothed": Erotic love, Nationalism, and authorship in A Guest for the Night


This article offers a reading of A Guest for the Night by S. Y. Agnon that unravels a semantic net of analogies among characters; the author and his dilemmas are arguably reflected in his relations with side characters, in some cases by analogy and in others through opposition. This network of relations uncovers the meaning of freedom in the novel. Freedom is semantically related to dependence and betrayal in intimate romantic relations, in national allegiance to the land of Israel and in relation to authorship, three semantic domains that are structured as parallel. The reading reveals Agnon's position toward intimate relationship, nationalism, and authorship as laden with conflict: on the one hand the need to betray parents, partners, and origins and on the other hand, the fear and guilt concomitant with the freedom to write and to sever the ties to one's roots.