Page 146 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
equals in which he will loan God his walking stick until they
find a bench to rest upon; then together they will “enter the
evening.”27 The notion of a companion-God sharing the speak­
e r’s privations and his weariness at the end of life is strangely
consoling but one not derivative of Judaic teaching.
CRITICAL RESPONSE
The final question relates to Vogel’s reception. The strange
fluctuations in the evaluation of Vogel’s writing from his own
time to the present indicate that there is far more to the criticism
than aesthetic criteria alone. Vogel appears to have been a con­
stant thorn in the flesh of the early guardians of the developing
literature. In fairness to them, however, this may partly have
been due to his own personality, by all accounts a very difficult
one. Vogel made few friends and not only his behavior but
also his dreadful circumstances tended to estrange him from
his contemporaries. Yeshurun Keshet, who took pity on him,
describes an encounter with him in Paris in 1926:
The evening I met David Vogel I found him sitting in the com­
pany of Shneur, Shalom Asch, Moshe Nadir and others. He and
his (second) wife sat there somewhat on the outside and took
almost no part in the conversation. They both looked weak and
tired and seemingly bewildered. Shalom Asch certainly had never
met Vogel and had no idea of the identity of the pale, small
man sitting hunched over into himself . . . I moved my chair
to where Vogel and his wife were sitting and I began a conver­
sation with them. I did this deliberately: I simply could not bear
the sight of isolation and sadness that enveloped them like a kind
of fine mist, like a sort o f transparent, vague imprint.28
In a conversation with the poet Hillel Bavli twelve years later
Vogel summarized his own achievement: “I haven’t written
much, but I ’m thankful that there has never been any writing
in Hebrew such as mine. I have something different in me.
Is this not so?”29 This “difference” which constituted Vogel’s
poetic sensibility was strange to the developing Hebrew liter­
27. Vogel,
op. cit.,
239.
28. Yehurun Keshet. “Be-zokhri et David Vogel,”
Moznayim,
July 1972, 165.
See also “Rishmei masa be-Eiropa,”
Hadoar,
13 October, 1967, 739.
29. Pagis,
op. cit.,
198.