One of the most important books of the season -- and of the most difficult to place. Werfel has taken the not-very-familiar...



One of the most important books of the season -- and of the most difficult to place. Werfel has taken the not-very-familiar story of the Prophet Jeremiah and set it into a frame, by making it a vision of a writer today, who goes into a trance on the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, and relives the whole of the tragic period when Jeremiah thundered the warnings of his God to the Jewish people and their rulers. He was as hated and feared as Savonarola, centuries later. Josiah was king when Jeremiah was told in a vision that his was the role of prophet, denunciator. Josiah was his friend -- but Josiah died, and his people grew more godless, more heedless of the traditions of their race, more cruel to their slaves, more wrapped up in worldly things. Two Babylonian wars -- various wars with Egypt -- captivity -- destruction of their city and their Temple -- and still the words of Jeremiah went unheeded and the man himself was hated and tortured. Against this story one has the human picture of Jeremiah, with his own personal loves and hates and fears and doubts; of his loyal companion and scribe, Baruch. And the whole has a background of amazing scholarship in the detailed picture of the times, and the life, the great festivals, the religious and secular life, the courts of Jerusalem and Egypt and Babylon. The words of Jeremiah follow closely the words of the Old Testament, but the chronology of events varies at points; the interpretation of incidents, the proper names and so on make it difficult to compare the two closely. It is not an easy story in any version. Jeremiah is pot a wholly sympathetic character. The very fact that it is an Old Testament story does not simplify the selling of it to the modern world. But it is an unforgettable and powerful book, and -- if it should get the right sort of impetus -- might possibly come through to a unique sale. In its own right, it has all the elements of sheer drama. But it's not another Musa Dagh. Publishers are backing it with advertising and promotion -- 4 piece announcements imprinted and small poster are available.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 1938


Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1938