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The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Franz Werfel
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The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933)

by Franz Werfel

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English (10)  Italian (2)  German (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This book is 817 pages long! I'm very surprised I was able to read all of it. I have never even attempted anything of such weight, but I had a great interest in this topic, the Armenian Genocide, so I just kept reading. Referred to by all scholars of Musa Dagh as the definitive epic, Werfel wrote the fictional story of Gabriel Bagradian after he was inspired by the true story of an Armenian resistance to an Ottoman deportation edict of August/September 1915. The story can be read on many layers, with characters taking on nationalistic, religions and philosophical perspectives to the resistance, to personal identity, and ultimately to questions of fate and free will - kizmet. Werfel writes in the grand literary tradition rising out of the late 19th century, and the novel stands when compared to other novels which pose similar questions. I was especially reminded of Dostoyevsky and Victor Hugo. Werfel creates memorable characters, unlikely heroes and anti-heroes, thrown into a modern struggle to defend an ancient identity in the face of a modern onslaught of nationalism. Each character is forced to make sacrifices, and Werfel affords his reader time to consider the cost. Often, the cost is painfully revealed.
( )
  MsKathleen | Jan 29, 2018 |
spledido romanzo epico. racconta come, durante lo sterminio degli armeni ad opera dei turchi, 5000 armeni si ribellarono e resistettero eroicamente allo sterminio, salvatisi così dalla deportazione. Un racconto epico ed eroico che ti tiene incollato al libro fino alla fine. Unico neo la traduzione a dir poco arcaica (un italiano desueto già all'epoca della traduzione), assurda; ma che non ti fa perdere la bellezza del romanzo ( )
  SirJo | Sep 4, 2017 |
Upon my reading it as a teenager years ago, this novel held me spellbound; I had the same reaction upon this rereading, even with 800+ pages! This was my very first exposure to the fact of the Armenian Massacres of the 20th century. The story involves an Armenian, Gabriel Bagradian, who has returned to his family home in Syria from years of living in France, He is accompanied by his French wife, Juliette, and French-born son, Stephan. The devastating death marches of Armenians have begun. Gabriel leads the inhabitants of the seven villages in his area to Musa Dagh [Mount of Moses]; he is an Ottoman officer and has knowledge of military tactics. On Damyalik Plateau they set up a village under the leadership of some of the leading citizens. On the mountain, they for forty days carry out armed resistance against the Turks. Gabriel is their military commander and final word on other Council decisions lie with the Gregorian priest, Ter Haigasun. The book ends in a shattering climax. The last paragraph, and indeed the whole last chapter, left me breathless.

Translation was very readable, with excellent pacing. Not a word was wasted. Highly recommended ( )
  janerawoof | Apr 20, 2017 |
136. The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, by Franz Werfel (read 2 Jan 1944) When I finished this book I said of it: "Wonderful." But I recall I thought it was somewhat tedious at times. ( )
  Schmerguls | Sep 17, 2013 |
At over 800 pages, this is not an easy read. It details the relations of the Armenian Christians with the Turks who were now ruling them. They were removed to Musa Dagh (Mountain of Moses) where times were difficult. It details their resistance effort and struggle during this time. My favorite portions were the portions concerning their faith and the portions that related to everyday living. The author made some wonderful descriptions of such things as food and other cultural elements. My unfamiliarity with some of the names made it difficult to read and keep characters straight in my mind as I was reading. I wish I'd spotted the list of characters and the glossary of Armenian and Turkish terms at the end of the novel prior to reading it in its entirety. Perhaps these should have been located in the front of the book! ( )
  thornton37814 | Mar 10, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franz Werfelprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dunlop, GeoffreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monton, RamonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reidel, JamesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Wie lange noch, o Herr, Du Heiliger und Wahrhaftiger, richtest Du nicht und rächest unser Blut an den Bewohnern der Erde?"
Offenbarung Johannis 6, 10
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"Wie komme ich hierher?"
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The villagers in fact held out for 53 days. Werfel apparently titled the book novel for the Biblical associations invoked by "40": the duration of The Flood, Moses' retreat on Mount Sinai, etc. The character of Gabriel was inspired by the town's actual leader, Moses Der-Kaloustian; the Chaush Nurhan hero, by Esayi Yacoubian.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786711388, Paperback)

This stirring, poignant novel, based on real historical events that made of actual people true heroes, unfolds the tragedy that befell the Armenian people in the dark year of 1915. The Great War is raging through Europe, and in the ancient, mountainous lands southwest of the Caspian Sea the Turks have begun systematically to exterminate their Christian subjects. Unable to deny his birthright or his people, one man, Gabriel Bagradian—born an Armenian, educated in Paris, married to a Frenchwoman, and an officer doing his duty as a Turkish subject in the Ottoman army—will strive to resist death at the hands of his blood enemy by leading 5,000 Armenian villagers to the top of Musa Dagh, “the mountain of Moses.” There, for forty days, in the face of almost certain death, they will suffer the siege of a Turkish army hell-bent on genocide. A passionate warning against the dangers of racism and scapegoating, and prefiguring the ethnic horrors of World War II, this important novel from the early 1930s remains the only significant treatment, in fiction or nonfiction, of the first genocide in the twentieth century’s long series of inhumanities. It also continues to be today what the New York Times deemed it in 1933—“a true and thrilling novel ... a story which must rouse the emotions of all human beings.” “Musa Dagh gives us a lasting sense of participation in a stirring episode of history.... Magnificent.”—The New York Times Book Review “A novel full of the breath, the flesh and blood and bone and spirit of life.”—Saturday Review

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The Forty Days of Musa Dagh is Franz Werfel's masterpiece that brought him international acclaim in 1933, drawing the world's attention to the Armenian genocide. This is the story of how the people of several Armenian villages in the mountains along the coast of present-day Turkey and Syria chose not to obey the deportation order of the Turkish government. Instead, they fortified a plateau on the slopes of Musa Dagh-Mount Moses-and repelled Turkish soldiers and military police during the summer of 1915 while holding out hope for the warships of the Allies to save them. The original English translation by Geoffrey Dunlop has been revised and expanded by translator James Reidel and scholar Violet Lutz. The Dunlop translation, had excised approximately 25% of the original two-volume text to accommodate the Book-of-the-Month club and to streamline the novel for film adaptation. The restoration of these passages and their new translation gives a fuller picture of the extensive inner lives of the characters, especially the hero Gabriel Bagradian, his wife Juliette, their son Stephan-and Iskuhi Tomasian, the damaged, nineteen-year-old Armenian woman whom the older Bagradian loves. What is more apparent now is the personal story that Werfel tells, informed by events and people in his own life, a device he often used in his other novels as well, in which the author, his wife Alma, his stepdaughter Manon Gropius, and others in his circle are reinvented. Reidel has also revised the existing translation to free Werfel's stronger usages from Dunlop's softening of meaning, his effective censoring of the novel in order to fit the mores and commercial contingencies of the mid-1930s.… (more)

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