I am reading a biography of S. Y. Agnon by Harold Fisch. He writes:
In Joyce or Virginia Woolf we are accustomed to what is sometimes called the interior monologue. Characters reflect inwardly, drawing on past experience; it is a relatively unstrenuous form of reflection. In Agnon we have something more dramatic, viz. the interior dialogue. His meditating characters argue back and forth, debating inwardly, using the method of question and answer which the Jewish reader recognizes as the technique of talmudic discussion. Should the Guest have a new coat made?
He is also compared to Proust, to Thomas Mann, to Edgar Allan Poe, to Joseph Conrad and to Kafka. On Kafka and Agnon:
The symbolic and everyday worlds are yoked together by violence in a way only found elsewhere in Kafka, though Agnon differs from Kafka in his greater degree of faithfulness both to the dream and to everyday observation…[Agnon writes] an allegorical tale like so many of Kafka’s tales…Such a tale is thus and image of contemporary existence in the historical present. And here is where Agnon differs from Kafka. “A Whole Loaf” is a naturalistic account of a Saturday night in Jerusalem in the twenties. We see the Arabs in their fezzes, the orthodox Jews in their fur hats (streimels); there is traffic, there are cafes and hotels; you see the different types coming out to take the air after a burning day of hot desert wind (hamsin).
Do you have any literary stream of consciousness ideas to share?
For more on Agnon, read about a short story from A Book That Was Lost.