The centrality of Brenner and Agnon in the formation of the Hebrew literature of the twentieth century from its beginning, can be termed here in short: The debate between the "Brenner School" and the "Agnon School." The Brenner School casts doubt on the social values of Judaism and of Zionism, which sprang up in response to Judaism's modern needs. The Brenner School uses contemporary revolutionary concepts to conduct a debate about the Jewish, secular, Zionist person. It does not hesitate to express its conclusions, even if that involves a lack of confidence in the human potential, especially in the Jewish human potential, and also in secular-Zionist moves. The Agnon School entails staying within the boundaries of methodical doubt. It assumes that early Judaism exists and is strong, and will eventually win out in establishing the identity of the Jew, both within and without, both in the debate conducted in Agnon's time, as well as in future debates. These two schools are not populated equally. The Brenner School won an uncontested victory in twentieth-century Hebrew literature. The Agnon School remained largely an empty school—a symbol and not a place of action. The attitude toward these two schools in twentieth-century Hebrew literature involves, before all else, taking a stand on the basic question of the right or obligation of Judaism to continue to exist as a national and collective identity.
This paper presents the outlines of a charged and complex discussion. After defining in detail the notion of the "school," the relations between the two artists will be presented in brief. Then their works will be presented, their literary positions and what they symbolize in Israeli Hebrew literature in the 1960s, the first generation of the State of Israel.