Franz Werfel, by Peter Stephan Jungk
Posterity has not been kind to Franz Werfel, born in 1890 and on his death in 1945 perhaps one of the most famous and successful German writers of the 20th century. In the English-speaking world, many people may recall The Song of Bernadette as a classic of Catholic piety, or The Forty Days of Musa Dagh as an Armenian national epic, but few, I suspect, would be able to recollect the author’s name, and of these, most would be surprised to learn that he was a German-speaking Jew from Prague. Even in Germany, Werfel’s reputation is a shadow of its former greatness.
Peter Stephan Jungk’s sensitive biography is a major atempt to rescue Werfel from obscurity. In this book Jungk shows just what a fascinating character Werfel was—but, ironically, he also offers many clues as to why Werfel’s star no longer shines so brightly, and probably never will.
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