Werfel, Franz

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Werfel, Franz

(fränts vĕr`fəl), 1890–1945, Austrian writer, b. Prague. He expressed his belief in the brotherhood of man in lyric verse, in expressionist and conventional plays, and in novels. He fled from Nazi-occupied Austria to France and then to the United States. Besides several volumes of poems, his work includes the dramas Bockgesang (1921, tr. Goat Song, 1926), Juarez und Maximilian (1924, tr. 1926), Paulus unter den Juden (1926, tr. Paul among the Jews, 1928), and the comedy Jacobowsky und der Oberst (1945; adaptation by S. N. Behrman, Jacobowsky and the Colonel, 1944). He is best known in the United States for the novels Vierzig Tage des Musa Dagh (1933, tr. The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, 1934), recounting the struggle of the Armenians against the Turks in World War I, and Das Lied von Bernadette (1941, tr. The Song of Bernadette, 1942), about the saint from Lourdes.

Werfel, Franz


Born Sept. 10, 1890, in Prague; died Aug. 26, 1945, in Beverly Hills, California. Austrian writer.

Werfel studied at the German university in Prague. In the collections of versed Friend of the World (1912),We Exist (1913), and Judgment Day (1919) he exposed the horrors of war. A pioneer of expressionism in lyrics and drama, Werfel collaborated on the Berlin jounal Aktion. His plays Mirror Man (1920; Russian translation, 1922) and Paul Among the Jews (1927) and novels The Murdered Man Is Guilty (1920; Russian translation, 1924), The Class Reunion (1928), and The Star of the Unborn (1946) are characterized by ideas of abstract humanism with an inclination toward the mysticism of passive antimilitarism. His play Jacobowsky and the Colonel (1944) is antifascist.


Gesammelte Werke [vols. 1-4]. Stockholm, 1948-56.
In Russian translation:
Smert’ meshchanina. Leningrad, 1927.
Verdi: Roman opery. Moscow, 1962.


Puttkammer, A. von. Franz Werfel: Wort und Antwort. Würzburg [1952].
Turrian, M. Dostojewski} und Franz Werfel. Bern [1950].
Keller, E. Franz Werfel: Sein Bild des Menschen. Aarau, 1958.


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