Chapter

Between Modernism and Antimodernism

Ehrhard Bahr

in Weimar on the Pacific

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520251281
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933804 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520251281.003.0008
Between Modernism and Antimodernism

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For the Prague poet and novelist Franz Werfel, the year 1933 was not the occasion of a definite rupture, as it was for the other artists, writers, and intellectuals from Germany. This was in part because he was a citizen of Czechoslovakia who had opted to live in Vienna, and he was not affected by events in Germany until 1938, when Austria was annexed. The other reason was that Werfel had made his accommodation with reactionary conservatism, and was vacillating between modernism and anti-modernism. Werfel abandoned Expressionism and turned to writing popular novels. Despite his strong affinity for Catholicism since childhood, he never abandoned Judaism and returned to modernism in his last novel, Star of the Unborn. Another novel, written between July 1932 and November 1933, is The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, which deals with the Turkish genocide of the Armenians in 1915 and can be considered the first work of Holocaust literature in German. The best of Werfel's work in exile in France, “Cella or the Survivors,” remained unfinished and therefore unpublished during his lifetime.

Keywords: Franz Werfel; modernism; anti-modernism; Expressionism; novels; Catholicism; Judaism; France; exile

Chapter.  10554 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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