Page 138 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
fiction are striking.”2 In his study of Vogel’s novels, Gershon
Shaked reminds us that Vogel lived within the orbit of
Schnitlzer, Altenberg, Zweig, Werfel, Hofmannsthal, Rilke and
indeed Freud,3 but we have no evidence of any knowledge of
their writings (other than Rilke’s) on Vogel’s part. Maeterlinck,
Ibsen and Hamsun are mentioned in Vogel’s diary and Rilke
in his 1931 lecture on Hebrew literature. Dan Pagis claims that
Vogel was not acquainted with the French Symbolists, but that
he had encountered Yiddish Expressionism in Vilna. This was,
however, different from Vogel’s own brand of discourse in its
close attention to Jewish concerns and especially nostalgia for
the lost Jewish past which Vogel expresses only obliquely, if
at all. Menahem Brown stresses the close affinities between
Vogel’s work and that of Feierberg whom he terms a “pure,
pure Expressionist.”4 Pagis confirms Vogel’s contact with the
Decadents in Vienna and the Expressionism of George Heym,
Elsa Lasker-Schiiler and particularly Georg Trakl, but he is not
convinced about Vogel’s absorption of German cultural move­
ments. It seems unlikely, however, that Vogel could entirely
have escaped the influence of any of these movements, or their
representatives, given his long sojourns in the European cultural
centers, including about fifteen years in the Paris of Post-
Symbolism. Vogel himself recognized his identity as a child of
Europe. In 1914 he writes, “Again I ’m facing a new period
in my life whose focal point is German culture.”5 After Vogel’s
abortive experiment in Palestine in 1930 he returned to Paris
with many excuses and, after being reprimanded by Leo
Motzkin, retorted to a friend, “Let him bear the
hamsins.
Me
— my home is here. This is the only air I can breathe.”6 In
a short tribute to Brenner, Vogel admits to identifying with
Brenner’s characters and hence with “the Jewish tragedy,” but
concludes that “ . . . we have already given ourselves in the great
world to a new moulding, to European garb.”7
2. Robert Alter.
The Invention o f Hebrew Prose.
Seattle and London: University
o f Washington Press, 1988, 78.
3. Gerson Shaked. “Hufshah min ha-ani,”
Haaretz,
5 July, 1974.
4. Menahem Brown. “Im shirei David Vogel,”
Masa
21, 20 May, 1966.
5. Dan Pagis. “David Vogel: ha-ish ve-shirato,”
Molad,
June-July, 1964, 194.
6. Pagis,
op. cit.,
196.
7. See
Moznayim
(where the piece is published in Hebrew for the first time)
3-4, July-August 1987, 23.