Monday 17 September 2018


DVOYRE FOGEL (1902-1942)
            The sister of Dr. M. Erenprays (Ehrenpreis), she was born in Lemberg; her father Anshel (Anselm) was a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment and worked as a teacher in the Baron Hirsch schools in the town of Burshtin (Burštýn), while her mother descended from a famous pedigree.  Her cousins were the Zionist leaders: Dr. David Maltz and Dr. Yehoshua [Shiye] Thon.  She lived in Burštýn as a child.  With the outbreak of WWI, she and her family fled to Vienna.  She studied there in a high school, and after returning from Vienna, she received her baccalaureate degree in Lemberg.  She studied philosophy and Polish literature, initially at Lemberg University and later in Cracow from whence in 1926 she received her doctor of philosophy degree.  Her dissertation on Hegel’s philosophy of art appeared in the bulletin of the Cracow Academy of Sciences.  For a time she worked as an educator in Lemberg’s home for orphans, and she was a teacher of psychology in the Hebrew teachers’ seminary under the administration of Yankev Rotman.  In her father’s home, people held Yiddish at arm’s length.  She first wrote her poems in German, but to everyone’s astonishment a short time later, she switched to Yiddish, and it was with that language that she remained until the end of her life.  She debuted in print with her poems in Der nayer morgn (The new morning) in Lemberg.  She began publishing articles and reviews in the weekly Folk un land (People and nation), under the editorship of Dr. N. Meltser.  Together with M. Ravitsh, D. Keninsberg, Rokhl Oyerbakh, and the Pleiade of young Galician poets, she contributed to the literary journal Tsushteyer (Contribution).  There she published a study entitled “Teme un forem in der kunst fun shagal” (Theme and form in the art of Chagall) and “Vayte verter in der dikhtung” (Further words about poetry).  With her cubist poems, Fogel—according to her own formulation—sought to create “a new kind of lyric, a lyric of geometric ornamentality with its monotony with its rhythm of return.”  She excelled in her essays with profound erudition and great professionalism in the realm of art.  Her books include: Tog-figurn, lider (Day figures, poetry) (Lemberg: Tsushteyer, 1930), 72 pp.; Manekinen (Mannequins), poems (Warsaw: Tsushteyer, 1934), 69 pp.; Akatsyes blien, montazhn (Acacias in bloom, montages) (Warsaw, 1935), 74 pp.  At the time of the highly accursed Aktion in Lemberg in the summer of 1942, she and her husband, six-year-old son, and mother hid out in a bunker.  The family was discovered by the Germans, and all of them were shot on the spot.
            “The strangeness, and if you will the ‘outlandishness,’ of Dvoyre Fogel’s poetry,” wrote Mendel Naygreshl, “comes first and foremost from her search for the sources of poetic inspiration, there where most poets of her time—in Galicia and Poland—did not wish to look….  Cubist painting on one side and intellectualism on the other led her to the notion that poetry ought to be static and aloof; the dynamic may be entirely excluded and the musical element should be superseded by the musical.”
            “Dvoyre Fogel’s poetry,” noted Shloyme Bikl, “is rooted not in Jewish ways and also not in any closeness to Jewish history.  Her poetry is an effort to synthesize the rediscovered Yiddish language from her grandmother with her own acquired European erudition.  One cannot say with complete assurance that this match has indeed been successful, or that Dvoyre Fogel’s poetry from Tog-figurn (Lemberg, 1930) and from Manekinen (Lemberg, 1934) and her poetry in prose from Akatsyes blien (1935) are a thoroughly successful and long-lasting accomplishment.  In light of her three books, however, one can say without the least reservation that the attempt to carry out such a synthesis of the Yiddish language and artistic European erudition was a psychologically pure and creatively naïve one, and that the effort was made by a person with a refined intellect and poetic boldness.”

Sources: Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (February 25, 1931); A. Shvarts, in Tshernovitser bleter (Czernowitz) (August 13, 1934); H. Segal, Tshernovitser bleter (March 12, 1935); B. Shnaper, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (October 4, 1935); Y. A. V-n, in Inzikh (New York) 11 (1935); Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945); Dr. M. Naygreshl, in Tsukunft (New York) (1951); B. Heler, ed., Antologye fun umgekumene dikhter (Anthology of murdered poets) (Warsaw, 1951); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (February 26, 1961); Bikl, in Tsukunft (March 1965; Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation), vol. 2 (New York, 1965); R. Oyerbakh, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 50 (1964); Sh. Meltser, in Al naharot (Jerusalem) (1955/1956); Dov Sadan, Avne miftan, masot al sofre yidish (Milestones, essays on Yiddish writers), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961); Sefer burshtin (Volume for Burštýn) (Jerusalem, 1959/1960), pp. 173-76.
Yekhiel Hirshhoyt

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