Page 139 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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ABRAMSON / POET OF THE DARK GATE
131
It was this European garb that contributed to Vogel’s
alienness within the mainstream of modern Hebrew literature.
There has been much debate about his Jewish reference or lack
of it, and his critics, particularly his own contemporaries, have
exhibited an uncomfortable reluctance to place him within the
history of Hebrew literature. Pagis and others of our own time,
perhaps through overcompensation, try too hard to do so. For
example, when Pagis cites influences he confines these to He­
brew writers, specifying Gnessin and Avraham Ben-Yitzhak,
these being among the few about whom we can have any cer­
tainty since Vogel himself mentions them with admiration.8 Yet
Vogel’s resemblance to Georg Trakl and other German Expres­
sionist poets, Ernest Stadler, Godfried Benn and Klabund
(Alfred Henschke), for example, is so pervasive that it seems
unlikely to involve simply a current style. Without clear evidence
we may not assume that Vogel had read Trakl but we are equally
misguided to conclude that he had not, particularly in view of
tropes, phrases and entire poems so similar that without prior
knowledge correct authorship is often difficult to assign. That
this should be purely by chance defeats logic.
Gershon Shaked, writing in
Haaretz,
reopens the old debate
about the nature of “Jewish” literature which began with Ahad
Ha’am and Berdichevsky, and continued with Kurzweil and
Schweid.9 The ethnomusicologist, Curt Sachs once defined Jew­
ish music as “that music which is made by Jews, for Jews, as
Jews,” a declaration that has implications for all branches of
Jewish creativity. Shaked goes further by proposing that He­
brew literature is written in Hebrew about Jews and for Jews
but adds that it is also
imbued with Jewish values.
By this criterion
Vogel’s works are not Jewish, although Brown refers to Vogel’s
“so very Jewish lines,”10without amplifying his evaluation other
than by the contention that Vogel closely resembles Feierberg
whose Jewishness was unimpeachable. Shaked asks whether the
Jewishness of Freud, Schnitzler, Beer-Hoffmann, Wassermann,
Zweig, Vogel and others was significant and whether it was only
by chance that it was the Jews of Germany and Austria who
were “tuned into” Europe’s troubled unconscious.11 The Ex­
8. In his 1931 lecture Vogel compares Gnessin to Rilke. He praises the literary
style o f Ahad Ha’am, Shoffman and Devora Baron.
9. Gershon Shaked. “Hufshah min ha-ani,”
op cit.
10. Brown,
ibid.