Freud’s “Uncanny” (Unheimlich) in David Vogel’s Married Life: Impressionism and Expressionism in a Belligerent Relationship

By: Heddy Shait

Abstract: Married Life, by the Austrian Jewish author and poet David Vogel, was a provocative novel for Hebrew literature at the time of its publication in 1929. The story is one of sexual pathology in a relationship between a masochistic victimized Jewish man, a writer at the start of his career, and a willful Christian baroness who beats and mentally abuses him, until the inevitable tragic end. This essay analyzes the novel’s structure both poetically and thematically, through representations from the contrasting art movements of Impressionism and Expressionism. They are dominant influences that function not only as stylistic modes, but aesthetic cloaks behind which many of the novel’s problematical issues hide. The main concern is the complicated relationship between the married couple, viewed here through Freud’s concept of the “uncanny.” This prompts an additional reading of the influences of the above mentioned art movements through the “uncanny.”