Udi Greenberg

Doktoral Candidate/Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)

Research Stay: 1 April to 30 June 2005

Research Project:

The German-Hebrew poet and author David Vogel

 

David Vogel was born in Russian controlled Poland to a Yiddish speaking family in 1891. After his thirteenth birthday, he left home and moved to Vilna. In 1912, he arrived in Vienna and wrote his first Hebrew poem. There he stayed until 1925, and left the city to Paris upon receiving Austrian citizenship. Vogel published a few short stories in Hebrew in the 1920', and in 1930 decided to settle in Palestine. He endured the land for less than a year and moved back a German-speaking city: Berlin. While staying in that city, he published his greatest novel, Marriage Life, which he tried to write in both German and Hebrew simultaneously. However, his literary attempt was not successful and he moved—yet again—to Paris, where he lived until his capture by the Nazis.

Only Hebrew literature researchers dealt with Vogel's work. They studied his writings in correlation to Hebrew poetry of the time; but gave little attention to his prose, which was written in two languages: Hebrew and German—not in his native tongue. In his private correspondence, Vogel only felt comfortable to write in Yiddish. Not just researchers neglected Vogel, the public ignored his prose until recently as well: Marriage Life was republished in Israel in 1986, and the short stories in 1990. In my opinion, his written material owed its origin more to the central-European culture, than to the young Hebrew prose of the time. This fact might be the reason why the plot of Marriage Life was set in Vienna, in spite of the fact that while writing it Vogel spent already seven years in Palestine, Germany and France and never returned to the city he left in 1925.  

The purpose of my study is to read Vogel's prose as a cultural document of the German speaking Jewish culture of the time - described by an outsider - which can, in a wider historical perspective, reflect more than the literature research alone can. I would like to examine Vogel's work in my thesis in the same historical perspective on Vienna like Karl Schorske, Allan Janki and Stephen Toulmin. This perspective might be fruitful also by comparing his work with the German and Austrian literature and intellectual life of the time and as a reaction to them, and not only with the Hebrew literature, as done until today.

This year I finished all hearing requirements for a Masters of Arts degree from the History Department of the Hebrew University. I would like to dedicate the next academic year (2004-2005) for writing my thesis and beginning for PhD writing. Thanks to the specialization in German and Jewish culture and history, I'm sure that a semester in the Dubnow Institute in Leipzig would be of great help for this research.