Feuchtwanger, Lion

Feuchtwanger, Lion

(lē`ōn foikht`väng-ər), 1884–1958, German novelist. A pacifist, socialist, and friend of both Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht, he fled Germany for France in 1933; he was later arrested but dramatically escaped to the United States in 1940. Often concerned with Jewish history, his works are also noted for their lucid analyses of contemporary problems. His many novels include the trilogy Josephus (1923–42) and Success (1929, tr. 1930).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Feuchtwanger, Lion

 

Born July 7, 1884, in Munich; died Dec. 21, 1958, in Los Angeles. German writer.

Feuchtwanger studied philology at the universities of Munich and Berlin, receiving the degree of doctor of philosophy from the University of Munich in 1907. He worked as a journalist and a theater critic. Feuchtwanger’s pacifist views between 1914 and 1918 were reflected in poetry, in his adaptations of Aeschylus’ The Persians (1917) and Aristophanes’ Peace (1918), and in the play The Prisoners of War (1919).

Feuchtwanger emigrated from Germany in 1933; he lived in France and took part in the international movement to safeguard culture. With W. Bredel and B. Brecht he edited the journal The Word, which was published in Moscow from 1936 to 1939. After a visit to the USSR he wrote the book Moscow 1937 (1937; Russian translation, 1937). In 1940, Feuchtwanger was interned in France. He was taken prisoner by German troops but managed with great difficulty to escape. He spent the latter part of his life in the USA.

Feuchtwanger’s works deal mainly with the choice between action and philosophical contemplation. This issue was first touched on in the dramatic novel Thomas Wendt (1920) and was further developed in the historical novels Jew Suss (1920–22; published 1925; Russian translation, 1929) and The Ugly Duchess (1923; Russian translation, 1935). The novel Success (1930; Russian translation, 1935) was the first part of the trilogy of novels The Waiting Room, whose other parts were The Oppenheims (1933; Russian translation, 1935; in later editions entitled The Oppermanns) and Exile (1939; Russian translation, 1939). In its depth of social analysis, Success is an outstanding work of realism that denounces Hitlerism in its early manifestations. The Oppenheims portrays the failure of bourgeois humanism. In Exile, Feuchtwanger critically reappraised his abstention from political struggle and depicted the longing of the best stratum of the German emigrants for a new, socially transformed life in their former homeland.

Feuchtwanger’s historical novels of the 1930’s dealt mainly with the complex relationship of the humanist with man and society. They included a trilogy of novels about Flavius Josephus: The Jewish War (1932; Russian translation, 1937), The Sons (1935; Russian translation, 1937), and The Day Will Come (1942). Feuchtwanger’s historical novels have topical implications, as seen in The False Nero (1936; Russian translation, 1937).

Authentic historical personages and events of the period preceding the fascist coup are depicted in the novel Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (1943); they make the work’s sociopolitical analysis more concrete and profound. The novel Simone (1944) is about a young heroine of the French Resistance. Enriched by the historical experience of the victorious antifascist war and the socialist transformations that had taken place in a number of European countries, Feuchtwanger also accepted in principle the means by which this victory was achieved—the revolutionary activity of the masses. These themes found expression in Feuchtwanger’s works dealing with the French Revolution: the novels Proud Destiny (1947; Russian translation, 1959), This Is the Hour (1952; Russian translation, 1955), and ’Tis Folly to Be Wise (1952; Russian translation, 1956) and the play The Widow Capet (1956).

Feuchtwanger created a new type of historical novel that had a double theme; to a certain extent this was a rationalist novel. Many of his works have been made into motion pictures. Feuchtwanger was awarded the National Prize of the German Democratic Republic in 1953.

WORKS

Gesammelte Werke in Einzelausgaben, vols. 1–10, 12–14. Berlin, 1959–64.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–12. Introductory article by B. Suchkov. Moscow, 1963–68.

REFERENCES

Fradkin, I. M. “Pafos istorii, tvorimoi narodom.” In Literatura novoi Germanii. Moscow, 1961.
Rachinskaia, N. N. Lion Feikhtvanger. Moscow, 1965.
Suchkov, B. Liki vremeni, vol. 1. Moscow, 1976.
Leupold, H. Lion Feuchtwanger. Leipzig, 1967.
Nikolaeva, T. S. Razum protiv varvarstva. Saratov, 1972.

I. M. FRADKIN

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.