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The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933)
by Franz Werfel
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English
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)
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.
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