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Franz Werfel (1890–1945)

Author of The Song of Bernadette

110+ Works 2,721 Members 41 Reviews 5 Favorited

About the Author

Born in Prague of Jewish parents, Werfel served in World War I, then lived and wrote in Vienna until driven out by the Nazi occupation of Austria. And the Bridge Was Love: Memories of a Lifetime, by his wife, Alma Werfel, in collaboration with E. B. Ashton, is a deeply personal autobiography of a show more remarkable life in Vienna by the woman who was also married to the composer-conductor Mahler and the architect Gropius. Werfel escaped to the United States after the fall of France in 1940, where he won international recognition for his fiction. The most popular of Werfel's works was the novel The Song of Bernadette (1942), recounting the miraculous vision of the Virgin Mary granted to the young girl who founded Lourdes. Werfel said he wrote the story in honor of his "miraculous" escape from the Nazis but neither affirmed nor denied the miracle at Lourdes. Werfel also wrote lyrical poetry and drama. His comedy Jacobowsky and the Colonel (1944) was successfully produced in New York in 1944. In 1967 the Hamburg Opera presented Giselher Klebe's operatic version of the play at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Image © ÖNB/Wien


Works by Franz Werfel

The Song of Bernadette (1941) — Author — 733 copies
The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933) — Author — 662 copies
Una letra femenina azul pálido (1955) — Author — 285 copies
Star of the Unborn (1946) — Author — 160 copies
Class Reunion (1928) — Author — 137 copies
Embezzled Heaven (1939) — Author — 105 copies
Verdi: A Novel of the Opera (1923) — Author — 105 copies
Jacobowsky and the Colonel (1944) 49 copies
Hearken Unto the Voice (1938) — Author — 44 copies
The Pascarella Family (1976) 36 copies
The Man Who Conquered Death (1952) — Author — 34 copies
Cella, Or, the Survivors (1952) 30 copies
The Pure in Heart (1996) — Author — 20 copies
Nicht der Mörder, der Ermordete ist schuldig (1972) — Author — 19 copies
The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, Vol. 2 (1987) — Author — 16 copies
Between Heaven and Earth (1946) 16 copies
The House of Mourning (1991) 13 copies
Piccoli amori (1931) — Author — 12 copies
Die Hoteltreppe (1963) 11 copies
The Song of Bernadette, Vol. 2 (1948) — Author — 10 copies
Twilight of a World (1937) 10 copies
The Song of Bernadette, Vol. 1 (1946) — Author — 9 copies
Il segreto di un uomo (1995) 9 copies
Goat Song (1926) — Author — 8 copies
Meisternovellen (1972) 8 copies
The Eternal Road (1935) 7 copies
Paul Among the Jews — Author — 6 copies
El Secreto de un hombre (1983) 4 copies
Der Weltfreund (1924) 4 copies
Meistererzählungen. (2005) 4 copies
Beschwörungen 3 copies
Gesammelte Werke (2017) 3 copies
Schweiger 3 copies
Poems (in German & English) (1945) — Author — 2 copies
Gedichte 2 copies
La dura leyenda de la soga rota: y otros relatos (2022) — Author — 2 copies
3 Novellen 1 copy
Musa Dagda 40 Gün (2000) 1 copy
Der Attentäter — Contributor — 1 copy
2006 1 copy
V domě dětství (1990) 1 copy
Franz Werfel: Poems (1945) — Author — 1 copy
Werfel Franz 1 copy
Franz Werfel: Dramen (1973) 1 copy
Poems - Franz Werfel (2007) 1 copy
Arien 1 copy
1990 1 copy

Associated Works

Deutsche Gedichte (1956) — Contributor, some editions — 135 copies
The Jewish caravan : great stories of twenty-five centuries (1935) — Composer, some editions — 124 copies
The Song of Bernadette [1943 film] (1943) — Original novel — 110 copies
A golden treasury of Jewish literature (1937) — Contributor — 74 copies
The Dedalus Book of Austrian Fantasy, 1890-2000 (2003) — Contributor — 68 copies
The Theatre Guild Anthology (1936) — Contributor — 61 copies


20th century (51) anthology (75) Armenia (33) Austria (44) Austrian literature (50) Belletristik (27) biography (67) Catholic (18) Catholicism (17) drama (26) exile (20) expressionism (28) fantasy (33) fiction (258) France (22) Franz Werfel (19) genocide (23) German (89) German literature (157) Germany (27) historical fiction (43) history (39) literature (78) Lourdes (28) Lyrik (17) narrativa (18) non-fiction (18) novel (79) plays (19) poetry (54) religion (38) Roman (106) Saints (55) science fiction (21) short stories (37) stories (29) to-read (64) translation (17) Turkey (29) WWI (21)

Common Knowledge



A deeply effective telling of the story of the puppet Emperor Maximilian who tried to do good for the people of Mexico but only managed to do wrong. Benito Juárez is a major character without ever appearing on stage. In its English translation, the play is moving and poetic.
jumblejim | Aug 26, 2023 |
A high-ranking civil servant, celebrating his 50th birthday in 1936, receives among congratulatory cards, a letter from a woman he had seduced years before while tutoring her brother in her father's house, asking for his help for a young man. This letter leads to all kinds of complications. The author has given a good idea of what can ensue from misunderstanding, and also, a devastating portrait of a creep, the main character. A good psychological study, a forerunner to the whole genre of "Holocaust literature."… (more)
janerawoof | Jun 6, 2022 |
There doesn't seem to be a specific name for that category of stories in which adult characters are confronted with the consequences of hateful things they did in adolescence, but there's a lot of that sort of thing about. Maybe writers are disproportionally drawn from the ranks of former school bullies with guilty consciences; more likely they are all former victims of bullying indulging in a bit of wishful thinking...

This is certainly one of those, as Werfel's subtitle confirms: on the afternoon before the 25-year reunion of the class of 1902, examining magistrate Dr Ernst Sebastian is made to realise that it could well have been his own selfish and irresponsible actions as a schoolboy that started his friend Adler on the path that led to him being arrested on suspicion of murdering a prostitute.

Needless to say, it isn't quite as simple as that, Werfel introduces a few ironic twists into the story, but what this is really about is the unravelling of the flimsy structure on which the self-satisfied, pompous Sebastian has built his life. Sebastian has got away with all his failings because he is from a rich, powerful, establishment family; Adler has been unable to realise his early promise because his borderline status as a poor, Jewish boy in a middle-class Catholic school makes him the automatic scapegoat for everything.
… (more)
1 vote
thorold | 1 other review | Jul 20, 2021 |
H.G. Wells sends Gulliver to Perelandria
Funnier than I expected, and some interesting sf elements, with admixture of fantasy.
Dense but amusing in a dry sort of way.
Werfel makes up "customs" to fit his narrative (because in the real world the reverse is more difficult), and he skips over anything he doesn't want to explain.
There is often no rhyme or reason to BH's actions and choices.
It seems to be a vehicle to deliver Werfel's life-time collection of advice and opinion.
librisissimo | 1 other review | Feb 2, 2018 |



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