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Avigdor Dagan

DAGAN, AVIGDOR (formerly Viktor Fischl; 1912–2006), Israeli diplomat and Czech writer. Born in Hradec Králové, Bohemia, he edited the Zionist weekly Židovské zprávy ("Jewish News"), and became secretary of the Jewish Party (Židovská strana) in the Czechoslovak parliament. His verse collections, notably Jaro ("Spring," 1933), Kniha nocí ("The Book of Nights," 1936), and Hebrejské melodie ("Hebrew Melodies," 1936), showed the influence of Otokar *Fischer. He also translated works about the history of Zionism and the poems of Franz *Werfel, Antoni *Slonimski, and a short poem by Franz *Kafka, "Praha." After the Nazi invasion in 1939, he escaped to London, where he served the Czechoslovak government-in-exile and became a close collaborator of Jan *Masaryk. His Hovory s Janem Masarykem ("Conversations with Jan Masaryk," 1952), published in Tel Aviv, was modeled on Karel Čapek's "Conversations with Thomas Masaryk" (1928–35) and was one of the first books reprinted in Czechoslovakia during the short-lived liberal era of 1967–68. Arriving in Israel in 1948, he joined the Israeli diplomatic service in 1950, serving as envoy to Yugoslavia and as ambassador to Poland, Norway, and Austria until his retirement in 1977. He was the Encyclopaedia Judaica departmental editor for Czechoslovak literature.

Dvorní šašci ("Court Clowns," 1990) was a novel about the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust. Jeruzalémské povídky ("Jerusalem Stories," 1991) evoked the atmosphere of post-1967 Jerusalem. Other novels included Všichni moji strýčkové ("All my Uncles," 1995); the autobiographical Hrací hodiny ("Musical Clock," 1996); Loučení s Jeruzalémem ("Farewell to Jerusalem," 1997); Maškary v Benátkách ("Masques in Venice," 1997); and Žlutý dům ("The Yellow House," 2003). All is prose works are written in a very poetic, clear style, in a beautiful Czech and full of warmth and optimism. A collection of poems, Krása šedin ("The Beauty of Grey Hair"), appeared in 1992. His translation of a number of books of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Czech was issued in 2002 under the title Poezie Starého zákona ("Poetry of the Old Testament"). Dagan's essays are collected in Setkání ("Encounters," 1994), bringing together portraits of Czech and other writers and politicians. He was awarded the T.G. Masaryk Order of Czechoslovakia in 1991 and of the Czech Republic in 1996, the Gratias Agit Prize in 2002, and the Jaroslav Seifert Prize in 2004.


J. Kunc, Slovník českých spisovatelů beletristů 1945–56 (1957); Der Prager Kreis (1966); Jews of Czechoslovakia, 1 (1968), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Emingerová, Hovory s Viktorem Fischlem (2002); M. Kaďůrková, Setkání s Viktorem Fischlem (2002); A. Mikulášek et al., Literatura s hvězdou Davidovou, 1 (1998); Slovník českých spisovatelů (1982).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.