VIGÉE (Strauss), CLAUDE (1921– ), French poet and essayist. Born in the small Alsatian town of Bischwiller, Vigée was active in the French Jewish underground movement in World War ii. He escaped to Spain in 1942 and reached the U.S. in 1943. After completing his studies there he taught at several American universities, including Brandeis. In 1960 he went to Israel as visiting professor of French literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, assuming a permanent post there in 1963.
Vigée's poems, stories, and recollections, with their excursions into childhood and a philosophical quest for Jewishness, testify to a prolonged search for roots. This is especially evident in La lutte avec l'ange (1950), L'été indien (1957), and Canaan d'exil (1962). Consciousness of his own alienated condition led him, in the essays in Les artistes de la faim (1960) and Révolte et louanges (1962), to an examination of other great exiles searching for an absolute, such as Mallarmé, Camus, and *Kafka. After settling in Israel, Vigée was able to reach a harmony between his poetic urge and the surrounding everyday reality (Le poème du retour, 1962). The landscape of Israel inspired Moisson de Canaan (1967). Vigée also sought the fundamental bond between Hebrew and Western culture, and in "Civilisation française et génre hébraïque" (essay in his Moisson de Canaan) tried to define the role and importance of the specifically Jewish message in Western civilization. His essays on Goethe, Claudel, and Rilke also bear witness to his strong desire to reveal the imprint of the Bible on a civilization which declares itself heir to the Hellenic tradition alone. His works include various translations, such as Cinquante poèmes de R.M. Rilke (19532) and L'Herbe du songe, as well as the autobiographical La lune d'hiver (1970). His later works include Dans le silence de l'aleph: Écriture et Révélation (1992); La lucarne aux étoiles: dix cahiers de Jérusalem, 1967 – 1997 (1998); Vision et silence dans la poétique juive: demain la seule demeure: essais et entretiens, 1983 – 1996 (1999); Danser vers l'abîme ou La spirale de l'extase: choix de poèmes et d'essais: 1995 – 2004 (2004); La lutte avec l'ange: un chant de sombre joie dans l'agonie du temps: poèmes, 1939 – 1949 (2005).
S. Doubrovsky, in: Critique, 18 (1962), 233–40; F. Tourret, in: Preuves (Feb. 1965), 83–84; L'Arche, 134 (1968), 65; G.E. Silverman, in: Jerusalem Post, Dec. 11, 1970. add. bibliography: M. Finck and H. Péras (ed.), La terre et le souffle. Rencontre autour de Claude Vigée (1998); L'oeil témoin de la parole: rencontre autour de Claude Vigée, essays collected by D. Mendelson and C. Leinman (2001).