Page 136 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

Basic HTML Version

Poet of the Dark Gate
The poetry of David Vogel
h e b r e w
l i t e r a t u r e
of the nineteenth and early twentieth cen­
turies has suffered the strange fate of having been relegated
to a domain of cultural isolation. While in many cases it has
emulated the trends of major European movements, it has never
been regarded, either from within or without, as having a place
within European literature. This is partly the fault of its own
scholars and critics who preserved its exclusivity during the first
decades of this century by abstracting it from the domain of
mainstream literatures. Yet despite its largely different historical
and ideological determinants, 20th-century Hebrew literature
in many cases has emulated the thematic and stylistic tendencies
associated with European Modernism. It endured its own form
of aesthetic rebellion and because of its reference to its specific
cultural crisis, brought about in the late 19th century by a dis­
location of Jewish social and cultural norms, modern Hebrew
literature was able to anticipate, in theme at least, the sense
of “bleakness, darkness, alienation and disintegration”1 that de­
fined European and American Modernism.
Among those Hebrew writers who, for one reason or another,
expressed this sense in their work was David Vogel, born in
Podolia in 1891. Little is known about his education, his family
or his early interests. He appears to have been orphaned at
a young age, and to have begun his life of wandering at 13.
The facts of his adult life are dismal and sad. He arrived in
Vilna in 1909 or 1910 and left there in 1912 after having been
arrested for avoiding the army. On his release he moved to
Lemberg and, in 1912, to Vienna. In 1914 he was imprisoned
1. Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane, eds.
London: Penguin
Books, 1976, 26.