Showing posts from December, 2015

The Song of Bernadette, by Franz Werfel, translated by Lewis Lewisohn (1941).

Even if you're not religious, this story is sure to evoke a smorgasbord of emotions. The accounts of poverty and politics during this period (circa 1850) are rich in detail and absorbing. The cast of characters are touching and real. This is more than a good yarn. This is beyond subtle commentary on faith and doubt and human nature. The telling is packed with great, sometimes heart-wrenching, scenes. Understandably, this classic maintained the New York Times Best Seller list for 13 weeks.
As a nod to the Catholic Rosary, the novel is comprised of five parts, each part containing ten chapters. To my surprise, part one takes on present tense. I'm not sure whether this qualifies as unique for novels written seventy-five years ago, but it might.
What intrigued me most was Bernadette's simplicity. Since fiction writers are forever instructed to make their protagonists interesting, whether by introducing a glaring flaw or a striking quirk (such as my youngest sister shaking a br…