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In the Sanatorium

David Vogel’s first work of fiction is set in a charitable Jewish hospital for consumptives in Austria. The inmates move from their beds to their chairs, sit in the sun, wrapped in blankets, and look at the snow-capped mountains. Their isolation, their obsessive examination of their symptoms and their twisted relationships are characteristic of their sickness. An intense eroticism keeps their mortality in view, their desire heightened by the proximity of death. Vogel depicts an adolescent, pubescent hothouse atmosphere, in which men and women live on separate floors under the sharp eye of Fraulein Han, a 45-year-old virgin, and breaking the rules is exciting.

The repression reaches its climax when a patient seduces an orderly and is expelled from the hospital. The novella ends when a patient, a hypochondriac addicted to his illness, is tempted by another patient to leave the sanatorium for an outing, but collapses on a mountain top and dies.

Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Title In the Sanatorium
Writer's Last Name Vogel
Writer's First Name David
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad
No. Pages 101pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Be-Veit Ha-Marpeh
  • “ Vogel sought to depict undiluted Western decadence and its perverse effects on Jews. By means of Viennese Impressionism, Vogel evokes the peculiar atmosphere of Eros and death that colors this particular world... Narcissism, hypochondria, suppressed sexuality, all the ugly petit bourgeois mannerisms of the turn of the century, can be found in this novella. ”

    Critic Gershon Shaked
  • “ This generous, fetching, timeless book can also be read as an allegory of our lives, always and anywhere. ”

  • “ Vogel’s Hebrew can give us a meticulous sketch of the Tyrolean landscape or, with the stroke of a sentence, bend reality and move into surrealism… [he has] tragic humor and sparkle. ”