Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Antioch. Ancient Turkish city near the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea. Although little action unfolds here, a detailed account of a visit there near the beginning of the book is essential to highlighting the life of Levantine Armenian merchants before the Armenian genocide. Antioch’s people lived and prospered in a rich, multiethnic society. In the city’s bustling bazaar Armenians, Greeks, and Syrians surge past one another, wearing European dress but readily identifiable by their different headgear. Kurds, Circassians, and Bedouins stand out in their vibrant tribal wear, their women in veils and capes. Fragrant herbs blend with the aroma of simmering mutton fricassees, while the sounds of Muslim prayers mingle with the cries of street vendors. Prosperous Armenian traders tend their shops and stalls. They are the bankers, carpet merchants, and makers of the exotic jewelry that adorns all the women.

*Musa Dagh

*Musa Dagh (mew-sah dag). Mountain in eastern Turkey to which Armenian villagers retreat to resist the government’s deportation order; the mountain becomes their ark of salvation. The view from the mountain peak is dramatic, with the Mediterranean Sea to one side and the ancient city of Antioch, dear to Armenian Christian tradition, lying to the other. On this holy mountain, Armenians make their stand for life, freedom, and the survival of their apostolic Christian church. Before their...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Jungk, Peter Stephan. “Die vierzig Tage des Musa Dagh.” In Franz Werfel: An Austrian Writer Reassessed, edited by Lothar Huber. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. A dramatic, well-detailed account of the genesis of the novel. Portrays Werfel in a positive light. Jungk scripted and directed a film on Werfel for German television.

Keith-Smith, Brian. “The Concept of ‘Gemeinschaft’ in the Works of Franz Werfel and Lothar Schreyer.” In Franz Werfel: An Austrian Writer Reassessed, edited by Lothar Huber. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. Elaborates on the importance of community in Werfel’s work. Knowledge of German not essential but would be helpful.

Michaels, Jennifer. Franz Werfel and the Critics. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1994. Identifies aspects of Werfel’s work that have attracted critical interest. Also shows how various trends in criticism have shaped Werfel’s reputation as a writer. A clear and comprehensive presentation.

Steiman, Lionel B. Franz Werfel: The Faith of an Exile from Prague to Beverly Hills. Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1985. A penetrating analysis of Werfel’s political and theological development in historical context. Generally critical of his faith and work.

Wagener, Hans. Understanding Franz Werfel. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1993. Assesses Werfel’s work from a literary as well as historical perspective. Readable and concise.