David Vogel: A Hebrew Novelist in Vienna

  • Gershon Shaked


The historian of literature is prone to make a rigid distinction between the mainstream and the literary backwaters. But it sometimes happens that along the backroads one may find the most charming wildflowers whose beauty is more intoxicating than that of the houseplants encountered along the main boulevard. Hebrew literature from Mendele up until the last generation of writers focused its attention on Jews and their particular concerns. When it sought to portray people and their actions, it did so in terms of the social processes experienced by Jews as Jews and by Israelis as Israelis. Mendele depicted a perverted Jewish society; Brenner and his contemporaries turned their attention to those who, uprooted from their environment, were as ceaseless wanderers on the earth. Writers in the period of the First and Second Immigration tended to trace the immigrant’s putting down roots in the new country or depicted his rootlessness in the homeland. The first ‘Israeli generation’ of writers concentrated on depicting the new Israeli and the new way of life. The portrayal of characters in Hebrew fiction was ‘particularist’; it addressed itself to familiar social circumstances and tried to probe Jewish and human problems at one and the same time. Though Hebrew literature paid no heed to Aḥad Ha’am, and did not confine itself closely to ‘Jews and Judaism’, nevertheless it related itself to general human concerns from a specifically Jewish point of view. Very few writers turned their attention to situations which were beyond the scope of specifically Jewish experience.


Married Life Main Boulevard Urban Experience Jewish Experience Coffee House 
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  1. 1.
    Vogel’s only novel is Married Life. Shortly following its original publication in 1929/30, the novel was reviewed by A. Braudes, Y. Yatziv, B. Hayyim, Y. Saaroni, M. Schlanger and others. In the 1960s there were also short notices by G. Moqed (1962) and A. Ben Ezer (1969). Particularly important is the excellent article by G. Moqed, ‘D. Vogel ke-Mesaper’, Me’oznayim, vol. XVIII, pp. 5–6 (1964), pp. 426–33; vol. XIX, no. 1 (1964), pp. 51–8. D. Vogel was born on 15 May 1891 in Satanov, Podolia. He arrived in Vienna in 1909; in 1912 he moved to Lemberg, then to Austrian Galicia, but at the end of the same year he returned to Vienna, where he was arrested as a foreign citizen during the First World War. He married in 1919. In 1920, he contracted tuberculosis and was hospitalized several times in a sanatorium. Vogel published mostly poetry and is principally known as a poet. In 1923 he published his first volume of verse, Before the Dark Portal (Lifney ha-Sha’ar ha-’Afel). He remained in Vienna until 1924 and moved to Paris in 1925. In 1929 he emigrated to Palestine, but left in 1930 and arrived in Berlin in 1931. From 1932 until the outbreak of the Second World War he lived in Paris. With the entry of the Nazis, Vogel was arrested by the French and, until 1941, he was interned in various detention camps for foreign nationals. In 1944 he was captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp. This biographical sketch is based on D. Pagis’s introduction to Vogel’s collected poetry, Kolha-Shirim (Tel Aviv, 1971), pp. 13–33. The time Vogel spent in Vienna was undoubtedly the most important in shaping his literary personality.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    D. Miron, ‘ ’Al B’ayat Signono ha-’Omanutit shel Y.H. Brenner be-Sippurav’, Gazit, vol. XIX (1961), pp. 50–4.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    All quotations are according to D. Vogel, Hayyeh Nisu’im (Tel Aviv, 1924).Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    N. Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton, NJ, 1957), pp. 40–2.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1992

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  • Gershon Shaked

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