Else & Agnon

In May of 1933 a postcard was sent from Zurich, Switzerland. The handwriting is temperamental, almost wild, in ink and the writing nearly fills both sides of the postcard. On the cover, between the stamp on the right, and a picture of Lucerne Lake on the left, the word "Palestine" is written in German. Who is the recipient? Who is the sender? The handwriting makes it hard to read and the style is also unusual. Else Lasker-Schüler is the sender. Her name is nestled in between the letters of the recipient's address, not once, but twice. On the right of the date – the 28th of May, 1933 she drew a protruding flower. At the bottom she wrote in German "The National Library", and in front of it, a little bit to the side, there are words written in a bow: "In the", meaning in the National Library. Apparently she meant the National Library in Jerusalem, and the postcard was to be delivered to "Adoni Dr. Schriftsteller Agnon" Sir Dr.,the writer, Agnon.”
Thus began a relationship that lasted many years. The friendship existed via correspondence. However, it also included face-to-face encounters when Else Lasker-Schüler visited Eretz Yisrael in 1934 and again in 1937, and started in earnest in 1939 when she arrived in Eretz Yisrael for a "visit" that lasted until her death in 1945. Their correspondence shows us that Else Lasker-Schüler and S.Y. Agnon met in cafes in Jerusalem and that the poet also visited him at home and was friendly with Agnon's wife and children. She would send Agnon books of her works and suggested to him that he read them aloud to the children in the family.
This first postcard is especially interesting because it was sent to Agnon without giving an address. Else Lasker-Schüler wanted to get in touch with the writer who lived in Jerusalem and she figured that the best way to do so was to send the postcard to Prof. Hugo Bergmann at the National Library. We don't know how, or when, the postcard made its way to Agnon. It seems that Hugo Bergmann kept it a while since the correspondence between Else Lasker-Schüler and S.Y. Agnon started a year after the postcard was written, in 1934.
An interesting aspect of the postcard is the language it is written in: a stormy mix of German and English, a sort of hybrid, rambunctious language, wherein he English is sometimes written in German  sometimes in English letters and sometimes partially in German letters. The poet, who was 64 at the time, comes across as a love-struck girl, who admires the writer as a big star. She apologizes, longs, and becomes excited. She says that she wrote the postcard in order to inform Agnon that she wanted to write him a letter and adds: "Allways I think of Palästina"
The archives of the National Library in Jerusalem contain a lot of evidence of the correspondence and relationship between these two important artists. The first postcard has traveled a long way: from Zurich to the National Library, from the hands of Hugo Bergmann to S.Y. Agnon and in end back to the National Library as part of the S.Y. Agnon Archive.
 אירוע השקת היצירה "סְפָר" מאת עפרי כנעני בהשראת ארכיון אלזה לסקר שילר
אירוע השקת היצירה "סְפָר" מאת עפרי כנעני בהשראת ארכיון אלזה לסקר שילר
האירוע התקיים ביום שלישי, כ"ה בחשון תשע"ד, 29 באוקטובר 2013, בשעה 20:00 בספרייה הלאומית.
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