Books: The New Wandering Jew

A GUEST FOR THE NIGHT by S. Y. Agnon, translated from the Hebrew by Misha Louvish. 485 pages. Schocken Books. $6.95.

That ancient exile the Wandering Jew has never been harder to track. He may travel less from country to country; but, hung up in a no man's land between a fixed Talmudic past and a restless, skeptical present, he suffers from a different kind of Diaspora.

As foremost chronicler of this new Wandering Jew—this spiritually displaced person—Shmuel Yosef Agnon, 79, won a Nobel Prize in 1966. An unhurried Jewish anecdotist, a patient sketcher of modest, baffled characters, a leisurely Talmudic dialectician, Agnon...