Item description for The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel & Ludwig Lewisohn...
This is the classic work that tells the true story surrounding the miraculous visions of St. Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France in 1858. Werfel, a highly respected anti-Nazi writer from Vienna, became a Jewish refugee who barely escaped death in 1940, and wrote this moving story to fulfill a promise he made to God. While hiding in the little village of Lourdes, Werfel felt the Nazi noose tightening, and realizing that he and his wife might well be caught and executed, he made a promise to God to write about the "song of Bernadette" that he had been inspired by during his clandestine stay in Lourdes. Though Werfel was Jewish, he was so deeply impressed by both Bernadette and the happenings at Lourdes, that his writing has a profound sense of Catholic understanding.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel & Ludwig Lewisohn has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Wilson Fiction Catalog - 01/01/2010 page 978
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Studio: Ignatius Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8" Width: 5.24" Height: 1.55" Weight: 1.45 lbs.
Release Date Oct 30, 2006
Publisher Ignatius Press
ISBN 1586171712 ISBN13 9781586171711
Reviews - What do customers think about The Song of Bernadette?
Bernadette is not a belief but science! Dec 8, 2007
Many people have not studied the Supernatural Catholic Church. These are not religious "beliefs" they are provable. Saint Bernadette is an incorruptible Catholic saint whose body never decayed after her death. She was NOT MUMMIFIED! Do your research and forget religion! Saint Catherine Laboay who saw the Virgin Mary in 1830 never decayed as well. Do your research! And Yasinta who saw the Virgin Mary at Fatima did not decay. These women were Not Mummified by the Catholic Church! There is the book "The incorruptibles" by Joan Carol Cruz that proved these things. Also the images are on line. Look. The book "Meet the Whitenesses" about Fatima proves scientifically that 100,000 people saw the miracle of the son at Fatima. This book here is ridiculous. Foget about "religion" and do your scientific research and you will realize that the Virgin Mary is not a belief but is scientifically real. It is very sad that "Catholics" know nothing about this stuff but psychics and the esoterics do. Do your reserch for at least a year!
Initial misgivings overcome Aug 7, 2007
At first this book annoyed me. The reason was that, being cast in the form of a novel, the author has been obliged to invent conversations, thoughts, motives, situations, and details of personality.
Furthermore, he has probably introduced a fictitious minor character now and then. Specifically, he has cast Sister Vauzous, who was Bernadette's novice master when she later entered the convent at Nevers, as her unsympathetic school teacher in Lourdes.
Several scenes are set in the schoolroom, yet I suspect Bernadette never went to school. The only language she spoke before entering the convent was Gascon, and visitors from Paris who wished to interview her needed an interpreter. Had she gone to school, she would have been able to speak at least a modicum of French.
In spite of these initial misgivings, the sweep of the story and the vividness of the writing eventually drew me in, and I frequently found myself very moved by it. The story of the apparitions and of the stir they created locally and nationally is convincingly told, and the simplicity of Bernadette's character is beautifully presented. Furthermore, it is astonishing that the author, who was not a Catholic or even a Christian, has been able to enter so successfully both the spiritual and political worlds of Catholicism.
I recommend the book highly. Catholic readers will find their faith deepened by it, but others will still find it a compelling story well told.
Masterful and moving Mar 2, 2007
This book should be THE standard for religious fiction. Rarely have I read a book in which the subject is so excellently handled. The story is interesting and very moving, without being melodramatic. It begins with Bernadette in a sort of wide focus. The narrator does not make the claim that Bernadette's visions are authentic,but rather allows the story itself to slowly show the truth of the situation. As the plot progresses, the focus narrows, and we see just who and what Bernadette really is. By the end of the book, we, the reader are convinced (without being forced) that Bernadette is an authentic visionary of the Blessed Virgin. This is probably the finest novel that I have ever read, and I am a prolific and avid reader. One caveat- the historical details in this book are not 100% accurate. If one wants to find a more historically accurate account of Saint Bernadette, read Bernadette Speaks, which is also a brilliant book.
I recommend this book to *you.* Aug 18, 2004
My title of this review, "I recommend this book to *you*" may seem rather bold; after all, I don't know who may or may not come along and read this review.
But I stand by that title. Whoever you are, gentle reader, I recommend this book to you. It is one of those universal classics that powerfully, skillfully, and with thoroughgoing integrity, addresses a truly universal phenomenon: the encounter of mortal, corporeal, limited human beings with the numinous.
That's something we all share, no matter our language or religion. One day we are walking along, leading our workaday lives, and -- something happens. Something that just does not fit in what we can conceive of as real. We have a dream, we see, however fleetingly, a ghost, we know something we should not have known.
How do we respond? What is the proper response?
A related question: Human suffering. Why? What is God *thinking*? Or, isn't human suffering proof that there is no God?
Franz Werfel's "Song of Bernadette" takes up these questions, questions that every sentient creature must ponder at least once in his or her lifetime. And Werfel does a bang-up job.
Werfel himself was no stranger to either phenomenon. He knew suffering, and he knew the numinous. He had previously written of the Armenian genocide. He was a Jew escaping from Hitler when he, inspired by a trip to Lourdes in his escape, undertook to complete a vow and write something that would honor what he experienced there.
I was wary of this book. Mindful of the Jennifer Jones - Vincent Price movie (what a combo), I expected a spongy, pious, icky book. Boy, was I wrong.
From the start, the reader realizes that no matter what else he is, Werfel was an excellent writer. Born in Prague, he was a peer of Franz Kafka and had an established reputation before he began "Song," having been voted the most popular author in the German language in 1926, and having won the Grillparzer Prize, the Schiller Prize, and the Czechoslovakian State Prize, among others.
One of Werfel's great gifts is that he doesn't try to sell you anything that you don't want to buy. He uses his literary skill to recreate a humble peasant's life for you, to drag you into a grim dwelling where an ordinary peasant girl is doing her chores, and coughing asthmatically. Believe me; this is not a child you feel any temptation to worship. She could be anyone, anyone. From these particulars, Werfel creates a universal tale.
Now, the tough part. Werfel, of course, is writing about GOD. That topic that makes people get crazy with each other. And he's writing about a miracle, an event that, by its definition, defies human belief.
I'll be frank. I'm a lifelong Catholic. And *I* find Bernadette Soubirous' story hard to believe. Were I sick, I would not seek healing at Lourdes; I'd go to a medical doctor.
This is where Werfel's skill as a writer really shines. He does not even attempt to describe the miracles in a believable way. Rather, he describes the *reactions* of observers in a way that I found completely believable. I believe that average people, when confronted with the numinous, would react exactly as the characters in Werfel's book are described as reacting.
Werfel never converted to Catholicism. After reading his masterful book, I, a Catholic, have more questions than answers about what really happened - and about what really continues to happen - at Lourdes. Indeed, those not at all Catholic, but interested in the power of the mind to heal the body, have included Lourdes on their research itineraries.
It was Werfel who first gave me pause about Bernadette, and about Lourdes. Without having read his book, I think I would have dismissed Bernadette, had I given her any thought at all, as a hoaxer, or as someone with some mental disability. Isn't that how we usually respond when confronted with the numinous, but at a distance? Werfel provides us with portraits of people who respond exactly that way, and others who have to handle the numinous when confronted with it at first hand. The contrasts are wonderfully drawn, as are the occasional conversions.
As Werfel so wonderfully says, "for those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible."
We all, at some moment or another, wrestle with ourselves to discover on what side of that line we take our stand. At such moments, we could do worse than pick up Werfel's "Song of Bernadette."
Franz Werfel's Reflections on Two Moments of Grace May 5, 2002
The Jewish author Franz Werfel wrote this novel after stopping at Lourdes on his way out of Nazi-occupied Europe. Impressed by what he observed at the famous shrine, he vowed that if he ever reached "the saving shores of America", he would do his best to "sing the song of Bernadette". As his wish was granted, his vow was honored. Interestingly, during the course of the novel, published at a time of extreme religious intolerance in Europe, we learn that Protestants as well as Jews also make pilgrimages to Lourdes. The story is about the life of Bernadette Soubirous, an asthmatic fourteen-year-old peasant girl whose family have fallen on hard times. Noteworthy is the fact that Bernadette's mother, Louise, had a gift for healing the sick as other women of the Saint's matrilineal line. The first apparition takes place on February 11, 1858 after her father has a lamentable day doing menial labor, and she, her sister, Marie, and friend, Jeanne Abadie are sent to collect firewood for their home. The ailing Bernadette stays on one side of the freezing pond water to prevent her asthma from becoming worse while the other go ahead, and in a frightening, tense moment, she is greeted by a pixie-like lady with a white veil,a white gown, dark hair, blue eyes, and a blue sash with a gold rose on each foot who smiles consistently. In the days and weeks that follow, Bernadette's friends and foes align themselves either in her favor or against her. But miracles in the grotto take place when a blinded stonecutter and an ailing infant are among the first to be healed by water from the spring that the Lady told Bernadette to dig. However, moments of vindication for Bernadette come slowly. Eventually, she even wins the approval of the Empress Eugenie, who dispatches her son's governess to get some of the water to help heal him. With the words "I am the Immaculate Conception", the Apparition of 1858 also answered the issue about how the Mother of Christ had to be conceived without sin at a time when the Catholic Church had begun to discuss that topic at length. The Lady promises Bernadette that she will not be granted happiness in this life, but only in the next. Indeed, the story follows Bernadette through the 13 years she spent in the Convent of Nevers (where her incorrupt remains are on display to this day), being tormented by a jealous nun, and helping to nurse soldiers during the Franco-Prussian War. The ailing soldiers called for her more than any other nurse. After dealing with many ailments and tragedies(her mother died shortly after she entered the convent in 1866), Bernadette, who never loses her sense of humour through it all, dies of tuberculosis at the age of 35 in 1879. She was canonized in 1933 and is one of the favorite modern Saints of the Catholic Church. When Franz Werfel's own story becomes intertwined with Bernadette's, we realize that we are presented with two stories about moments of grace; that of a humble peasant girl's priviledge of seeing the Mother of God face to face, and of a non-Christian's finding solace in the Visionary's native village, and ultimately escaping his persecutors. Werfel, in fulfillment of his vow to write about the young Seeress if his own mortal life was saved from the Nazis, has done Bernadette great justice, exposing more people to her life story in an entertaining and engaging way.