By Samuel Yosef Agnon

Szybusz, a small city in Jewish Galicia, is the scene of a bitter¬sweet romance firstly of the 20th century. Few of Agnon’s tales are informed as without difficulty as an easy tale, but this enticing story finds the profound mental and social insights of the Nobel Laureate’s most interesting fiction.

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For borgerskapet gjelder det motsatte av den læresetning som gjelder for de store, nemlig: Den som ikke er imot meg, er med meg. Hvis vi på dette grunnlag analyserer Steppeulvens sinn, så står han for oss som et menneske bestemt til ikke-borger bare ved at hans individualitet er så sterkt utviklet - for all høyt oppdrevet individualisme vender seg imot jeg'et og tenderer mot dets tilintetgjørelse. Vi vet at han føler sterke drifter i seg, såvel mot helgenen som mot vellystingen, men at han på grunn av en eller annen svekkelse eller treghet ikke kunne ta spranget ut i det frie, ville verdensrom og ble fastholdt av borgerlighetens tunge, moderlige konstellasjon.

Han har derfor satt majoriteten i maktens sted, loven i voldens sted, folkeavstemning i ansvarets sted. Det er klart at dette svake og engstelige vesen - uansett hvor mange det finnes av det - ikke kan innta noen dominerende stilling, at det på grunn av sine egenskaper ikke kan spille noen annen rolle i verden enn som saueflokk mellom fritt omstreifende ulver. Når de virkelig sterke regjerer, ser vi jo at borgeren øyeblikkelig blir satt til veggs, men vi ser også at han aldri går helt under, at han av og til tilsynelatende endog behersker jorden.

Og nå kom jeg forbi araukarien. I annen etasje fører nemlig trappen i dette huset forbi den lille avsatsen utenfor en leilighet som uten tvil er enda renere, enda mer plettfri og velbørstet enn de andre, for den lille avsatsen stråler av overmenneskelig påpasselighet, den er et lite lysende tempel av orden. På parkettgulvet som man nesten ikke våger å trå på, står det to pene skammeler og på hver av dem en stor blomsterkrukke. I den ene vokser det en azalea, i den andre en ganske stor araukarie, et sunt, struttende barnetre av den største fullkommenhet.

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