Vogel, David

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VOGEL, DAVID (1891–1944), Hebrew poet and writer. Born in Satanov, Russia, he spent his youth in Vilna and Lvov and in 1912 settled in Vienna. Upon the outbreak of World War i, Vogel was imprisoned in Austrian detention camps as an enemy (Russian) national. He was released in 1916 but thereafter lived a solitary life, finding refuge in the seclusion to which he had already given expression in his youthful Hebrew diary, and which is the cornerstone of all his poetry.

His poems were published from 1918 onward in Hebrew journals in various countries, and the only volume of poems he ever published, Lifnei ha-Sha'ar ha-Afel ("Before the Dark Gate"), appeared in Vienna in 1923. Vogel settled in Paris in 1925, immigrated to Palestine in 1929, but left a year later. After traveling to Warsaw, Vienna, and Berlin he returned in 1932 to his beloved Paris. During these years he published his stories Be-Veit ha-Marpe (1927; "In the Sanatorium"); a novel Ḥayyei Nissu'im (1929–30; "Married Life"); Le-Nokhaḥ ha-Yam (1932 34; "Facing the Sea"), and prepared a second volume of poems for publication which he did not live to publish. When World War ii broke out Vogel was incarcerated in French detention camps as an enemy national (now an Austrian). These experiences are described in the manuscript of his diary (in Yiddish). After the capitulation of France, Vogel was released (1941) and lived in Hauteville near Lyons. There he was arrested by the Nazis in February 1944, and most likely perished in a concentration camp.

Vogel's poetry is completely introspective and describes a dream world, disjointed and purposeless. The main subjects are love, lost childhood, and fear of oblivion, which fuse together to create a sense of alienation and isolation. The constant presence of death becomes the basic sense of existence. The poems are extremely restrained in tone but their lack of pathos serves only to intensify the dread. Vogel's imagery is startling and elliptic and most of his poems are written in free rhythm, without ordered rhyming. Their framework appears loose: unequal sections, and only vague hints as to the affinity between them. Both the external and the inner-psychological plots of his prose works are developed within a framework of time and a given society. Be-Veit ha-Marpe creates an atmosphere of despair and aimlessness against a background of life in a tuberculosis sanatorium (Vogel and his wife were both stricken with this disease). Ḥayyei Nissu'im, a psychological novel set in Vienna after World War i, depicts a pathological love affair between a Jew and a gentile baroness. Vogel's stories generally were favorably received but had little influence.

His poetry, on the other hand, aroused varied and conflicting reactions, reflecting the changing trends in Hebrew literary criticism. His first poems already won him admirers (among them J.Ḥ. *Brenner), but also dismayed more traditionalist critics (including Ḥ.N. Bialik), who found them entirely illogical. In the 1930s and 1940s he was almost totally ignored as a literary figure but was "rediscovered" in the 1950s. Unlike his early admirers who spoke of his "gentle delicacy," the new critics pointed out the power of his allusive expression and regarded him as an important forerunner of Hebrew modernism.

His complete poems have been published, with an introduction and bibliography by Dan Pagis: Kol Shirei David Vogel (1966). Since the 1980s there has been a growing interest in the works of Vogel, who is considered by literary critics to be one of the seminal innovators of modern Hebrew prose. Menaḥem Peri rediscovered and published (1986) the novel Ḥayyei Nissu'im (English translation: Married Life, 1988 and 1998) and Taḥanot Kavot (novellas and diaries, 1990; Extinguished Stations) in his series Ha-Sifriah ha-Ḥadashah. The collected poems were published in 1971, 1975 and 1998. An English translation of the novella Facing the Sea is included in A. Lelchuk and G. Shaked (ed.), Eight Great Hebrew Short Stories (1983). Vogel's diaries and autobiographical notes 1912–1922 and 1941/42 were published in German as Das Ende der Tage, with a forward by Amir Eshel. A list of other works translated into English appeared in Goell, Bibliography, 56, and further information concerning translations is available at the website ithl at iwww.thl.org.il.

add. bibliography:

G. Shaked, "A Viennese Author Who Wrote in Hebrew: D. Vogel," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 12:1 (1986), 20–27; G. Shaked, Ha-Sipporet ha-Ivrit, 3 (1988), 93–103; M. Peri, "Ibbed Fogel et Fogel," in: Taḥanot Kavot (1990), 327–50; A. Feinberg, "I Have Without Doubt Lost This War: David Vogel," in: Modern Hebrew Literature, 6 (1991), 38–40; G. Shaked, "D. Vogel: A Hebrew Novelist in Vienna," in: Austrians and Jews (1992), 97–111; G. Abramson, "Poet of the Dark Gate: The Poetry of D. Vogel," in: Jewish Book Annual, 50 (1992), 128–42; A. Komem, Ha-Ofel ve-ha-Pele: Iyyunim bi-Yẓirato shel David Fogel (2001).

[Dan Pagis]