Lukas Pallitsch

Das Nachleben des Propheten Jeremia bei Stefan Zweig und Franz Werfel
[The Afterlife of the Prophet Jeremiah in Stefan Zweig and Franz Werfel]

Conditio Judaica vol. 99
De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston 2024, 461 pages
ISBN 978-3-111-34774-5 (Print); 978-3-111-34800-1 (PDF)

The works of Stefan Zweig and Franz Werfel repeatedly focus on the catastrophes that culminated in the horrors of the two world wars. To interpret their own time, these two Austrian-Jewish writers referred to the prophet Jeremiah who once proclaimed the downfall of the city of Jerusalem and the destruction of its temple.

In addition to a historical contextualization, Lukas Pallitsch traces the afterlife of the prophet Jeremiah in the writings of Zweig and Werfel and illustrates how its eerie and tragic characteristics take effect in different fields of discourse: in the poetics of the prophetic texts as well as in the fields of time, revelation, and book editions. Here, it becomes evident that both Zweig’s play Jeremiah as well as Werfel’s novel Hearken Unto the Voice set a specific Jewish-biblical emphasis which, in turn, brings forth a new image of both writers: by raising the weight of millennia-old admonitions, their works acquire an eerie topicality while also opening up a perspective on a future in difficult times.