Page 148 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
lecture did little to endear Vogel to his critics. Ironically he
a rg u ed in it aga inst a tendency to critical leniency , a
concessionalism to literature for its having been written in the
Holy Tongue. He objected to the indiscriminate adulteration
of the language for the sake of effect, and the differential cri­
teria for foreign and Hebrew literature. He was particularly
indignant about the “forgers” whose linguistic virtuosity marked
a lack of originality and individual style. It was here that
Shlonsky was cited by name: “If only we had clever and knowl­
edgeable critics, could a . . .
[sic]
like Shlonsky raise his head?”
The epithet was removed by Moshe Hano’omi who edited the
first publication of Vogel’s lecture.32
In the 1950s, after Vogel’s “discovery” and subsequent
achievement of admiration, if not adulation, on the part of Is­
raeli mainstream writers and critics, the most notable among
them Dan Pagis and Natan Zach, Shlonsky claimed to have for­
gotten what he had meant by his review. Subsequently scholars,
including Uzi Shavit, have written many apologetics on
Shlonsky’s behalf, professing that the satirical review was in fact
highly appreciative, that Shlonsky intended the opposite of what
he had said, that he identified strongly with Vogel and that
rather than satire he had intended praise.
OBJECTIONS TO VOGEL
It is difficult to know what to make of this vociferous defense
of Shlonsky on the part of more than one critic.33 But even
more than this, it is difficult to interpret the furious anti-
Vogelism that presided over critical good sense in the late 20s
and early 30s. It was compounded of a general dislike of mod­
ernism, later of bitter resentment against Vogel’s conclusions
in his lecture, of disgust at his abortive Palestinian experience
and, clearly, of dislike and misunderstanding of his aesthetic
vocabulary. Vogel contributed nothing to national aspirations
or the struggle for self-determination. He referred only mar­
ginally, if at all, to Judaism; his poetry reflected and lamented
the negative European temper and the darkness of annihilation
not, however, the annihilation only of the Jews but of European
32. “David Vogel umaamaro,”
Bitzaron,
October-November, 1964, 7-13
33. Shavit,
op. cit.,
252.