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Gedichte aus den Jahren 1908-1945, by Franz Werfel

- Abstract

Franz Werfel was a bad author and a great poet. This is rare enough in itself. But even rarer is the deep connection between the two.

His novels and plays show neither the spontaneous purity of a genuinely naive nature nor the achieved purity of an artistic conscience. They are full of guilt and betrayal. Certainly they do not belie the effervescent talent that he possessed, the impulse and joy of the born story-teller. Just as in his social intercourse, there are moments in Werfel’s epical and dramatic works when he relaxed completely and gave himself up to his flowing gift, when he forgot and lost himself, and therefore found himself, exposing the childlike basis of his nature and its prankish exuberance. At such moments he told his story well—impulsively, wittily, colorfully, even dramatically. On the whole, however, he remained trapped between the spontaneity of the involuntary personal statement and the mental exertion of the work of art.

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