Friday, June 20, 2014

In the Sanatorium & Facing the Sea, David Vogel

Two Novellas, by David Vogel, a Hebrew writer who was murdered during the Holocaust, has the benefit of having for the first time in English translation his first published work, In the Sanatorium.  The other novella, Facing the Sea, has been published previously in English, both in Vogel’s collected work, and in collections of Hebrew writing.

David Vogel was a pivotal figure in Hebrew modernism.  These two prose works feature some of the preoccupations of modernist works.  In the Sanitarium, in the vein of The Magic Mountain, questions the assumption of health and illness, and the manner in which they are treated.  These themes, in turn, reflect upon the health, or lack of health, of European Society at large.

Facing the Sea confronts atavistic sexuality in a way similar, but not identical, the D.H. Lawrence.  Both Lawrence and Vogel viewed sex as the major imperative of people’s motivations, but for Lawrence, the redemptive force of eroticism far outweighed its conflicts.  For Vogel, sex has a largely degenerative effect on people, despite its great draw.

These translations give English readers the opportunity to see how an early Hebrew writer tackled very current issues in an ancient language speedily moving toward modernity.

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