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The Forty Days of Musa Dagh

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This stirring, poignant novel, based on real historical events that made of actual people true heroes, unfolds the tragedy that befell the Armenian people in the dark year of 1915. The Great War is raging through Europe, and in the ancient, mountainous lands southwest of the Caspian Sea the Turks have begun systematically to exterminate their Christian subjects. Unable to deny his birthright or his people, one man, Gabriel Bagradian—born an Armenian, educated in Paris, married to a Frenchwoman, and an officer doing his duty as a Turkish subject in the Ottoman army—will strive to resist death at the hands of his blood enemy by leading 5,000 Armenian villagers to the top of Musa Dagh, "the mountain of Moses." There, for forty days, in the face of almost certain death, they will suffer the siege of a Turkish army hell-bent on genocide. A passionate warning against the dangers of racism and scapegoating, and prefiguring the ethnic horrors of World War II, this important novel from the early 1930s remains the only significant treatment, in fiction or nonfiction, of the first genocide in the twentieth century's long series of inhumanities. It also continues to be today what the New York Times deemed it in 1933—"a true and thrilling novel ... a story which must rouse the emotions of all human beings." "Musa Dagh gives us a lasting sense of participation in a stirring episode of history.... Magnificent."—The New York Times Book Review "A novel full of the breath, the flesh and blood and bone and spirit of life."—Saturday Review

824 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1933

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About the author

Franz Werfel

302 books116 followers
Czech-born poet, playwright, and novelist, whose central themes were religious faith, heroism, and human brotherhood. Franz Werfel's best-known works include The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933), a classic historical novel that portrays Armenian resistance to the Turks, and The Song of Bernadette (1941). The latter book had its start when Werfel, a Jew escaping the Nazis, found solace in the pilgrimage town of Lourdes, where St. Bernadette had had visions of the Virgin. Werfel made a promise to "sing the song" of the saint if he ever reached the United States. He died in California in 1945.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 198 reviews
Profile Image for Ted.
515 reviews744 followers
June 7, 2017
Read this book about 40 years ago. I remember that it was a fascinating, though horrifying, story, a real page-turner. Based on the Armenian genocide that occurred in Turkey during World War I. According to Wiki, it was this novel, which Werfel is said to have researched in depth, which revealed the events upon which it is based to the world beyond Turkey. It was published in 1933, 18 years after those events.

The book was banned in Turkey in 1935. Several attempts at making a movie of the book have been made over the years, the most serious one in the '30s by MGM. Each time these have either quietly died, or been abandoned after clamorous criticism by various elements in Turkey. This reaction started with the government of Kemal Ataturk, whose modern secular regime had assumed power in Turkey in 1923. Ataturk was still President when the book was published, and presumably could have just said, "Well that happened under the Ottoman government of that era, Turkey has moved on." But apparently that reaction to the book would have caused enough of a furor among Turkey's population, even supporters of the new regime, that he was unable to make such a statement.

Thus it's one of those novels where you can't be sure where to draw the line between fact and fiction. Presumably most of the characters which people the novel could be guessed to be fictitious, though I certainly have no idea. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fort... for a section that clarifies some of the main parts of the story which are pretty much now known to be essentially true.) And the Turkish government has maintained that the entire Armenian Genocide is a fiction, from the 1930s when the book was published, down to the present day. Wikipedia states ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian... ) that
20 countries and 42 U.S. states have adopted resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide as a bona fide historical event. On March 4, 2010, a US congressional panel narrowly voted that the incident was indeed genocide; within minutes the Turkish government issued a statement critical of "this resolution which accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed".
Of course, even after all these years, it is perhaps not surprising that it's difficult for a people to admit this sort of thing, even when no one alive today could have possibly had anything to do with it. For example, I'm not aware that the U.S. government has ever admitted anything similar about the sorry history of the treatment of Native Americans by European settlers which peopled America. This seems like a long story in our past which has many similarities to the much shorter Turkish event; though of course there are lots of differences as well.

revised and expanded review
Profile Image for Ted.
515 reviews744 followers
February 17, 2018
The miserable sight of some maimed and famished-looking refugee children, working in a carpet factory, gave me the final impulse to snatch from the Hades of all that was, this incomprehensible destiny of the Armenian nation. Franz Werfel

Franz Werfel in 1940. Photo by Carl Van Vechten.

Franz Werfel (September 1890 – August 1945) was an Austrian-Bohemian novelist, playwright, and poet whose career spanned World War I, the Interwar period, and World War II. He is primarily known as the author of The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933, English tr. 1934, 2012), a novel based on events that took place during the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and The Song of Bernadette (1941). (Wiki)

The Book

The Forty Days of Musa Dagh is an historical novel based on the Armenian genocide that occurred in Turkey during World War I. According to Wiki, the novel
focuses on the self-defense by a small community of Armenians living near Musa Dagh, a mountain in Hatay Province in the Ottoman Empire—now part of southern Turkey, on the Mediterranean coast—as well the events in Istanbul and provincial capitals, where the Young Turk government orchestrated the deportations, concentration camps and massacres of the empire's Armenian citizens … the facts and scope of the Armenian Genocide were little known until Werfel’s novel, which entailed voluminous research and is generally accepted as based on historical events.
The novel was published in German in November 1933, 18 years after those events. By February 1934, under strong pressure from the Turkish government, the book was banned in the Third Reich. In Turkey, the official banning did not take place until the following January, 1935; though we might suppose that in Turkey the banning was a pro forma event mostly unnecessary at the time.

The statement that the “genocide” (the term didn’t exist until 1944) was “little known” until Werfel’s novel is somewhat misleading. The Wiki article on the Armenian Genocide makes it clear that considerable information about the events in Turkey had become available almost contemporaneously with the events; newspaper reports had been published in the New York Times in 1915 and 1916, for example, and Henry Morgenthau, Sr., American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, issued dispatches on the mass slaughter of Armenians as these events unfolded. And of course Armenians that escaped from Turkey to other parts of the middle east and elsewhere in the world, knew of what had happened.

However, from the distant perspective of today, a century later, it does appear that whatever was known about the massacre of Armenians starting in 1915 slipped from the public consciousness in succeeding years. This is understandable, given that the events occurred early in the Great War. Europe certainly had little emotional reserve for the fate of the Armenians as the horrors of the war closer to home unfolded in succeeding years. What was remembered of Turkey in the conflict was mostly the horrible fiasco of Gallipoli.

So, when the novel was published in 1933 (an English translation appeared a year later) it probably did introduce a great many of the reading public to events they knew little, if anything, about; or perhaps brought to mind things they recalled “hearing something about” back in the early days of the war, a generation ago.

Several attempts at making a movie of the book have been made over the years, the most serious one in the '30s by MGM. Each time these have either quietly died, or been abandoned after clamorous criticism by various elements in Turkey. This reaction started with the government of Kemal Ataturk, whose modern secular regime had assumed power in Turkey in 1923. Ataturk was still President when the book was published, and presumably could have just said, "Well that happened under the Ottoman government of that era, Turkey has moved on." But apparently that reaction to the book would have caused enough of a furor among Turkey's population, even supporters of the new regime, that he was unable to make such a statement.

Werfel divided his novel into three Books, each with its own epigraph.

Book One: COMING EVENTS has this epigraph: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth” (Revelation vi, 10)

Book Two: THE STRUGGLE OF THE WEAK: “And the winepress was trodden, without the city …” (Revelation xiv, 20)

Book Three: DISASTER, RESCUE, THE END: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (Revelation ii, 17)

My edition of Forty Days has a List of Characters at the end, together with a Glossary of Turkish and Armenian terms. The novel is prefaced with a Note by Werfel.
This book was conceived in March of 1929, in the course of a stay in Damascus. The miserable sight of some maimed and famished-looking refugee children, working in a carpet factory, gave me the final impulse to snatch from the Hades of all that was, this incomprehensible destiny of the Armenian nation …

The edition pictured with this review.


A new edition of the book is being published by Vera Mundi this spring (2015). (http://www.godine.com/isbn.asp?isbn=1...) (I believe it is already available as an e-book.)

From their web site:
The original English translation by Geoffrey Dunlop has been revised and expanded by translator James Reidel and scholar Violet Lutz. The Dunlop translation, had excised approximately 25% of the original two-volume text to accommodate the Book-of-the-Month club and to streamline the novel for film adaptation. The restoration of these passages and their new translation gives a fuller picture of the extensive inner lives of the characters, especially the hero Gabriel Bagradian, his wife Juliette, their son Stephan—and Iskuhi Tomasian, the damaged, nineteen-year-old Armenian woman whom the older Bagradian loves. What is more apparent now is the personal story that Werfel tells, informed by events and people in his own life, a device he often used in his other novels as well, in which the author, his wife Alma, his stepdaughter Manon Gropius, and others in his circle are reinvented. Reidel has also revised the existing translation to free Werfel's stronger usages from Dunlop's softening of meaning, his effective censoring of the novel in order to fit the mores and commercial contingencies of the mid-1930s..

New Yorker Article

The 1/5/15 issue contains this piece by Raffi Khatchadourian,who recently travelled to Turkey and has written a searching article about the experience.

The author’s father and grandfather both play a role in the narrative. His grandfather especially, being an Armenian who survived the genocide and continued to live in Turkey until the early 1950s, when he finally emigrated: “a train for Syria, forged papers, a ship for Beirut”. His father was born in Turkey, in 1936. “My grandfather spent his final years bedridden in his Beirut apartment. The family’s money was nearly gone; his last words to my father, who left for America in 1958, were a request for a wooden leg. Death arrived before the request could be fulfilled. He was buried in an unmarked grave.”


At front, the author’s grandmother, his father, and his grandfather.
Courtesy Khatchadourian Family

The article has the following sections:

I Resurrection
II Inferno
III Remembrance

which prompted me to think of the novel’s three books.

The more public aspect of Khatchadourian’s story concerns how the genocide, for so long denied vehemently by the Turkish government, is now, finally, a century later, beginning to be acknowledged by common people in Turkey as a thing which not only happened, but which deserves, in the minds and hearts of many, some sort of expiation. Much of the article tells about the restoration of the church of Sourp Giragos, in old Diyarbakir, which had fallen into ruins after 1915. A few years ago, the town rebuilt it. “Our grandparents,” the mayor said, “committed wrongs, but we, their grandchildren, will not repeat them. Diyarbakir is the city where his grandfather’s family had lived.

In the third part of the article, the author reflects on this year’s centenary of the 1915 events.

“Some anniversaries offer the promise of release, and the historical distance, combined with the changes unfolding in liberal Turkish society, may be significant. “This government has an unusual aspect to it,” Demirbaş (the mayor of the city’s old district) told me, sitting in Sourp Giragos’s courtyard. “It punishes us, but it also implements our projects. I was dismissed as mayor for providing multilingual municipal services, but then the state started multilingual TV programming.” As we spoke, a reporter rushed over to ask if anyone had heard about Erdoğan’s “apology” for 1915. As it turned out, Erdoğan did not apologize. He offered a perplexing statement—sympathetic in tone but in its substance still consistent with the official denial. He said, “It is a duty of humanity to acknowledge that Armenians remember the suffering of that period, just like every other citizen of the Ottoman empire.” A week later, he argued in an interview that the genocide never happened, echoing a sentiment that he expressed before the reconstruction of the cathedral: “If there is a crime, then those who committed it can offer an apology. My nation, my country, has no such issue.” “

At his conclusion, Khatchadourian writes of going to visit another church in the town, a far older church, still in ruins.

“As I walked across the ruins, it occurred to me that, though Kazanjian [Sarkis Kazanjian, the earliest identifiable person in our family tree; beyond him, our ties to Diyarbakir vanish into black earth].had not lived to see 1915, he had been touched by it, too. This is one of the strange features of genocide denial and of Turkification: erasure, by design, works both forward and backward in time. My grandfather had preserved the future for his family. But his past, our past, whatever contributions we had made to Ottoman society, had been effectively eradicated.”

“I went farther into the church, making a list of the things that the people of Diyarbakir had left there. Dried scraps of bread. Automotive carpeting. An old shoe. A fragment of a transistor radio. Corrugated plastic, some of it burned. Where the main altar had been, there was a fire pit; among the ashes, a wrapper for a candy called Coco Fino and empty cans of Efes beer. A rusted wire. Coils of shit. In the inset of a wall, someone had arranged several stones in a neat line. Hundreds of daisies reached upward. And as the sun descended behind the high city walls the smell of grilled meat drifted over from nearby homes, and the sound of children playing began to fill the streets. A ball was kicked and it hit the side of a building and bounced. Some boys clambered over the wall that surrounded the church. Women left their kitchens, and climbed to their roofs to collect carpets that had been put out to air. TVs wired to satellite dishes came on, filling spare rooms with their ethereal glow. All of Diyarbakir, it seemed, except the church, drifted forward in time. Overhead, a flock of common swifts darted and circled among the old stone arches. Their black wings arced like boomerangs as they swooped through the ruins—above the piles of earth, the weeds and the wildflowers, all the trash—and their movements were ceaseless, careless, as if unweighted by anything.”

original review

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Profile Image for Semjon.
638 reviews326 followers
January 10, 2023
Ich war doch ziemlich überrascht, wie wenig ich wusste über den Völkermord der Türken an den Armeniern in der Zeit um 1919. Dieser Genozid wird immer mal wieder weltpolitisch erwähnt, wenn ein Parlament eines Landes die Taten der Jungtürken als Völkermord geschichtlich einstuft und damit wütenden Proteste bei Erdogan hervorruft.

Franz Werfel informierte sich auf einer Reise durch die Türkei nach Vorderasien zu Beginn der Dreißiger Jahre über die Geschehnisse, die diesen Landstrich knapp 10 Jahre zuvor so erschütterte. Bewegt fiktionalisierte er die Belagerung des Mosesbergs, der heute am südlichsten Zipfel der Türkei, direkt an der libanesischen Grenze liegt. Hier verschanzte sich über 4000 christliche Armenier aus den umliegenden Dörfern, um sich vor den angreifenden Türken zur Wehr zu setzen. Franz Werfel baut seine Geschichte sehr gekonnt auf, führt erst einen kleinen Kreis an Hauptpersonen ein, beschreibt ihr Leben in der armenischen Gemeinschaft, lässt dann den Konflikt und die Flucht zur Mitte des Buchs anschwillen, ist dann mir zu detailreich in den militärischen Verläufen am umgekämpften Berg und findet dann ein sehr theatralisches, ja fast schon heroisches Ende für seinen Protagonisten. Trotz der Dicke des Werks ist das spannend geschrieben und vor allem lehrreich, wenn man sich weiterführende Informationen über dieses geschichtliche Ereignis einholt. Mir war noch nicht mal vorher klar gewesen, dass es sich hierbei auch um einen Religionskrieg handelte. Bewegend. Armenien ist also viel mehr als Eriwan und der Ararat. Ich werde das Land und das Volk nun mit anderen Augen sehen. Schon ein großes Lob, wenn ein Buch dies schafft.
Profile Image for Roberto.
627 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2018

"Chi non è mai stato odiato a cagione della sua razza non può comprendere"

E' il 1915 quando i Turchi decidono e attuano lo sterminio (o genocidio, o pulizia etnica) degli armeni, un antico popolo cristiano dell'Anatolia. Alla fine dell'operazione è difficile dire quanti siano stati i morti. ottocentomila? un milione? un milione e mezzo? Una enormità, comunque. Solo una piccola parte di loro si salvò rifugiandosi sulla montagna di Mosé, il Mussa Dagh, e resistendo là per quaranta giorni.

Incredibile quanto poco si sappia di questa tragedia.

Incredibile anche che lo stesso genocidio sia tutt'ora negato dal governo turco, tanto che in Turchia oggi chiunque parli di olocausto degli armeni viene incarcerato.
Incredibile che in alcuni paesi (in Francia per esempio) chiunque neghi l'olocausto degli armeni sia incarcerato (come per ogni forma di negazionismo).
Incredibile che ancora oggi la Turchia faccia tutto il possibile per coprire le tracce di questo genocidio.
Incredibile che del Mussa Dagh non sia rimasto nulla nemmeno sulle cartine, visto che la Turchia ha addirittura cambiato i nomi di quei luoghi.

Franz Werfel, scrittore austriaco, ebreo, assistette certamente all'aumento di fenomeni persecutori nei confronti degli ebrei nell'est europeo e in Ungheria in particolare. E così durante un viaggio nel 1929 in Siria quando conobbe la storia degli armeni vide probabilmente una similitudine e abbozzò il romanzo che poi scrisse dal 1932 al 1933, anni in cui in Germania iniziavano ad essere promulgate le prime leggi razziali.

"Quel che hanno fatto agli armeni un giorno lo faranno a noi"

Inutile negare che il romanzo sia imponente. E' un romanzo corale in cui realtà e finzione sono strettamente connesse tanto che è difficile capire dove finisce la storia e dove inizia l'invenzione. In circa un migliaio di pagine (che ho peraltro letto in un baleno) Werfel non si limita a raccontare i fatti del Mussa Dagh, ma descrive estensivamente anche il contesto storico, politico e culturale del genocidio perpetuato dai turchi. E ci porta a condividere la sorte di questi poveri cinquemila derelitti che con un pugno di fucili e ben poche risorse riescono a resistere nonostante i Turchi ma anche nonostante le loro pochezze, le rivalità interne, gli egoismi personali e l'avidità dei singoli.

"L'uomo non sa chi è, prima di essere stato messo alla prova"

E' difficile non pensare che l'occhio di Werfel guardando gli armeni pensasse anche al popolo ebreo (e chissà che magari presagisse l'olocausto degli ebrei che sarebbe arrivato di lì a pochi anni).

Cosa posso dire al termine del libro? Che sono felicissimo di averlo letto perché ho imparato, direttamente o indirettamente tantissime cose che non conoscevo. Che purtroppo il ventesimo secolo ha visto sciagure che non sarebbero dovute accadere. Che il libro, nonostante usi forme un po' superate (forse una traduzione più moderna gioverebbe) cui comunque si fa presto l'abitudine e la sua evidente prolissità ha reso la storia degli armeni e dei personaggi del libro indimenticabile.

"Avevano gli uomini il diritto di elaborare un saggio piano, per mezzo del quale un altro popolo doveva essere sterminato? Chi decide se un popolo è migliore o peggiore dell'altro?"
Profile Image for Grazia.
389 reviews155 followers
January 19, 2018
Esci dalla tua terra

Esci dalla tua casa.
Esci dalla tua vita.
Lascia tutto ciò che hai.
Puoi portare solo ciò che riesci a trasportare con le braccia.
E va dove ti condurró.

Ma questo dove ti condurró per gli armeni non è la terra promessa. Non è Dio che guida il popolo Armeno, ma bensì un editto degli ottomani.
L'intento dei pascia reggenti è chiaro. Werfel non ha esitazioni a descrivere ciò di cui si sta parlando, non è un massacro, è genocidio.

"La mèta della deportazione è il nulla".

"Ecco! In autunno potrò rispondere a tutta questa gente con la più grande sincerità: "La question arménienne n'existe pas""

La destinazione del popolo armeno è il nulla. Trasportati nel nulla, abbandonati nei campi, costretti a vivere brucando l'erba, nudi, senza possibilità di alimentarsi.

"Credeva di capire che l'opera di distruzione sulle forze dell'anima supera l'assassinio dei corpi. Non l'esterminio di tutto un popolo era il peggiore degli orrori, ma l'esterminio della coscienza, in tutto un popolo."

Ma ecco che alcuni villaggi Armeni collocati alle pendici del Mussa Dagh (Montagna di Mosè), comprendendo il disegno degli ottomani, decidono di fare della montagna il loro rifugio, e circa 5.000 persone, lasciano sì la propria casa, ma hanno come obiettivo la resistenza. Preferiscono pensare di morire di stenti piuttosto che nelle mani del popolo ottomano.
Questa è la storia romanzata, epica, leggendaria dei quaranta giorni di resistenza sul Mussa Dagh.

Il microcosmo in cattività, le dinamiche che si vengono a creare, i comportamenti eroici, e quelli meschini, gli odi, la sopravvivenza, la fame. La speranza.

"Sul Mussa Dagh però fin allora non c'era stato un solo caso di suicidio. Cosa abbastanza strana, se si pensa all'esistenza desolata, al quotidiano pericolo di morte, all'esito inevitabile, alla lenta consunzione per fame di cinquemila persone"

Il romanzo fu pubblicato nel 1933 ed in Germania fu subito messo all'indice. Troppo profetico ed anticipatorio rispetto quello che sarebbe accaduto al popolo ebreo. Colpisce il parallelo e chissà se gli intenti di Werfel fossero (anche) politici. [Werfel scoprì in un viaggio con la moglie in quei luoghi le vicissitudini del popolo armeno tramite la conoscenza diretta di alcuni bimbi armeni sopravvissuti]

Il romanzo, in cui le vicende assumono una dimensione leggendaria, pur essendo di lettura davvero semplice, ha delle lungaggini e delle ridondanze che forse sono volute dall'autore, ma che a me hanno un po' infastidito durante la lettura.

Una testimonianza importante. Un parallelismo stupefacente. Una lettura che fa conoscere un episodio quasi completamente dimenticato accaduto appena un secolo fa.
Un libro che rimane dentro.
Profile Image for Ian.
723 reviews65 followers
September 3, 2016
One of those novels I had meant to read for many years. I may have put it off due the intimidating 900 plus pages, but I recently read Vassili Grossman's "Armenian Sketchbook" and I think that gave me the push to finally tackle Franz Werfel's classic.

So what to say? The novel is regarded as a modern masterpiece and in my view it fully deserves its reputation. Of course, the sympathies of the reader lie entirely with the victims, as it would with any novel on this theme. In this case we also have the drama of the novel being based on a real story, about a desperate resistance against overwhelming odds. Nevertheless the quality of the book is enhanced by the fact that the author does not just create a scenario of "Good Armenians/Bad Turks". The Armenian characters possess a range of flaws, and whilst Franz Werfel does not hide the brutality of the Young Turk regime, he introduces several positive Turkish characters, who do what they can to help the Armenians.

If you are interested in reading the book you almost certainly know the broad outcome of the siege of Musa Dagh, but the novel is still gripping, and the reader does not know the fate of the individual characters. In writing the book, Franz Werfel clearly did an enormous amount of research about the siege and the wider Armenian Genocide, and the Armenian culture of the time. Still this is no leaden history lesson. The author brings the story to the human level with a superb cast of characters. If I have any negative comment it is that some of the romantic subplots seemed a bit melodramatic. Then again, that may have been the fashion of the time, and in any case the story is set amongst people convinced they had only days to live, and who had a consequent intensity of feeling.

A magnificent achievement. For me a 5-star rating without any hesitation.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
917 reviews949 followers
November 17, 2015
I feel bad giving this such a mediocre grade, not least because of how important it is as a historical document (not to mention as inspiration to the fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto), but as a novel it is too full of melodrama and Romance for me, and the prose itself does the job fine but is not exactly impressive. I can see why both Sylvester Stallone and Mel Gibson wanted to make movies of it at one time...
Profile Image for Tittirossa.
977 reviews218 followers
May 9, 2018
Bel romanzone*, che mette ansia fin dalle prime pagine (so come va a finire la Storia generale, ma palpito e faccio il tifo per i protagonisti di "quel" pezzettino di storia), e si sviluppa seguendo una linea storica ben documentata e ben rappresentata dall'intersecarsi dei capitoli "fuori" dal Mussa Dagh, e una linea romanzata, che in teoria avrebbe dovuto essere il "popolo armeno che si ribella" ma in realtà è (con forte prevalenza) Gabriele e la sua famiglia. Gli altri sono tutti figurette di contorno, spesso macchiettistiche, salvo il dottore e il prete.

Parte, anzi prende la rincorsa col tono della narrazione epica, introduce i personaggi, li accompagna nell'azione, disegna i caratteri, ci mette un po' di ansia sul futuro (che noi conosciamo), disegna il contesto storico, identifica i potenti. Poi inizia a perdersi nei dettagli, nella narrazione delle singole vicende che nulla hanno di eroico ma tanto di umano, intervalla con qualche capitolo notevole (la storia del Russo, la madre di Haik, la rivolta del pane, i dervisci), e si ripiega sulle miserie umane . Questa parte è la più debole, con momenti imbarazzanti,
Il risultato, è un pastiche con momenti di alta letteratura, annegati in un testo torrenziale.

*Oggi lo leggiamo come romanzo storico, ma è stato scritto nel presente: i fatti sono accaduti nel 1915, Werfel ne scrive nel 1929 (e verr�� pubblicato nel 1933). Non è un romanzo storico, ma d'attualità. Questo pensiero vena tutta la mia lettura (un po' quel che mi era successo leggendo I Fratelli Opperman di Feuchtwanger anch'esso pubblicato nel 1933), costringendomi a riflettere su un vago senso di ineluttabilità degli eventi. I testimoni del tempo denunciavano (e le opere avevano successo), ma la slavina procedeva inarrestabile.
Forse è proprio questo essere "scritto nel presente" che lo rende un po' affastellato di fatti e avvenimenti, e poco risolto letterariamente. Apprezzo la dedizione alla causa di Werfel (che in qualche modo mi si sovrappone a Lepsius), ma non la sua resa letteraria complessiva. Quella "di dettaglio" ne esce molto meglio (non sempre), certe descrizioni di persone, di moti d'animo, di paesaggi, di orizzonti storici sono notevoli.

Werfel sembra impegnarsi su un doppio binario: farci amare il popolo armeno come entità, artefice di un'azione grandiosa, e farci provare irritazione per le sue singole entità.
Gli abitanti del villaggio sono rappresentati come irritanti, sciocchi, stupidi ed egoisti, e descritti con copioso uso di stereotipi (gli occhioni degli armeni su tutto). Inoltre, tutta la situazione sul Mussa Dagh - per come viene descritta - sembra un po' un villaggio di selvaggi che agiscono a livello primordiale, tenuti insieme solo da qualche capo illuminato. Non solo le tipe dai nomi impronunciabili del cimitero che si colorano la faccia di viola, ma anche i bravi coloni.
A un certo punto pure Werfel si stanca dell'eroismo e li tratta tutti da colpevoli:
Non che Gabriele & Famiglia ne escano meglio, avrebbe potuto scegliere di farli crescere nella loro nuova condizione e non di condannarli a morte come due stupidi. La povera Giulietta colpe non ne ha, se non quella di essere completamente a-dimensionata per il momento storico in cui l'improvvido marito l'ha piazzata. Avrebbe potuto essere l'eroina della situazione, ma evidentemente Werfel non la ritiene tale. Ma perché questo accanimento di Werfel sulla famiglia di Gabriele? Giulietta e Stefano sembrano pagare la loro estraneità alla patria/terra armena la prima e per il tentativo di farne parte il secondo. Sottolineato in modo brutale con il capitolo della ricerca dei soccorsi con Stefano che raggiunge Haik, Mi è sembrata una metafora scoperta e quasi obbligata. Un modo per pagare il tributo alla causa armena e sancire le colpe degli europei (come sottolinea anche lo sceicco derviscio) che con il loro intervento hanno sancito un interessamento non dovuto.

L'ultimo capitolo a me è sembrato molto sopra le righe, capisco l'attribuzione simbolica di Gabriele (anche alla luce della conversione di Werfel), costruito su una sorte di percorso-viacrucis verso la redenzione, come se dovesse scontare la colpa di essersi allontanato dal suo popolo per 40 anni. Ma sembra più un isterismo dato dalla stanchezza dei combattimenti, dai nervi disfatti , e dalla fatica di tenere insieme i 5000 armeni riottosi al comando. Fino al cedimento dei nervi di fronte alla risoluzione positiva (dopo 40 giorni di tensione).
Più impulso freudiano che emulazione cristiana.
Profile Image for Markus.
201 reviews69 followers
August 9, 2020
»Es ist wahr Effendi. Du kannst es nicht leugnen, dass der Nationalismus, der heute bei uns herrscht, ein fremdes Gift ist, das aus Europa kam.« (S 665)

Im Sommer 1915 verschanzten sich ein paar tausend armenische Dorfbewohner vor der drohenden Deportation durch die Jungtürken auf dem Musa Dagh, dem Mosesberg. Unter der Führung von Der Moses Kalousdian, einem Kämpfer der Dashnag Befreiungsbewegung leisteten sie 56 Tage lang erbitterten Widerstand, bevor sie von einem Geschwader alliierter Truppen gerettet wurden.

Man sollte Franz Werfels literarische Verarbeitung dieser historischen Episode zuallererst als ein Mahnmal sehen, als ein Ge- und Bedenkbuch über die Folgen nationalistischer Ideologie am Beispiel des Völkermords an den Armeniern. Schon deshalb verdient der Roman höchste Anerkennung und Respekt. Bei solcher Lektüre erschüttert mich jedesmal von Neuem, dass der Mensch zur planmäßigen Ausrottung seinesgleichen fähig ist, und dass es die Vernunft ist, die ihn erst zu dieser Monstrosität befähigt, die dann auch noch zur Rechtfertigung dieser Anmaßung missbraucht wird.

Die 900 Seiten waren zügig zu lesen, unangestrengt und mit einer Art naivem Vergnügen, so wie ich als Jugendlicher Abenteuerromane gelesen habe. Werfels Stilvorlage ist die epische Dichtung, das Ergebnis ist ein breit angelegtes, kriegerisches Melodram, mit richtigen Helden, blutigen Schlachten, aber auch Identitätskrisen, Beziehungsdramen und aufrührenden Schicksalsschlägen. Tatsächlich gäbe der Stoff einen exorbitanten Hollywoodschinken ab. Verständlich, dass immer wieder große Verfilmungen geplant wurden, u.a. von und mit Sylvester Stallone oder Mel Gibson. Bis dato wurden alle von der türkischen Regierung mit Erfolg verhindert.

Eine Stärke des Schinkens liegt wohl in der Spannung der Handlung, auch wenn Werfel sich von den tatsächlichen Ereignissen weit entfernt haben dürfte. Besonders beeindruckt hat mich aber die psychologische Ausarbeitung der Figuren. Die Schilderung psychosomatischer Traumafolgen und der Einfluß von Extremsituationen auf das menschliche Zusammenleben schienen mir oft heutige Erkenntnisse der Psychologie vorwegzunehmen.

Auch sehr erhellend und interessant sind zwei Einschübe, die Werfel fast wörtlich den Protokollen des evangelischen Pastors Lepsius entnahm, der sich für die Sache der Armenier einsetzte. Im ersten verhandelt Lepsius mit dem völlig ignoranten und selbstherrlichen General Enver Pascha, im zweiten diskutiert er mit den Vertretern eines türkisch-muslimischen Ordens, die den Armeniern wohlgesinnt sind und diese im Untergrund unterstützen. Werfel ist sehr bemüht, nicht zu polemisieren und auf beiden Seiten das Gute, das Böse und das weite Feld dazwischen zu thematisieren.

Literarisch und politisch konnte mich der Roman nicht überzeugen. Sprachlich hätte ich ihn um 100 Jahre früher angesiedelt, jedenfalls nicht in der Moderne zur Mitte des 20.Jahrhunderts. Eine pathetische Stimme und große Gesten sind zu wenig, um ein modernes Epos zu schaffen, das wirkt eher ermüdend. Besonders irritiert hat mich die allegorische Befrachtung von Handlung und Figuren - schon im Titel werden aus den 56 Tagen biblische 40 - und ich frage mich, ob der Auszug aus Ägypten dem Vergleich mit einem modernen Genozid standhält. Ebenso die immer wieder eingestreuten ideologischen oder religiösen Betrachtungen des auktorialen Erzählers wirken eher erzwungen, fragwürdig und schaden dem Roman beträchtlich.

Werfel hielt 1932, also bevor er das Buch schrieb, in Wien eine Rede, in der er den Rassenbegriff und die Rassenlehre für obsolet erklärte. Trotzdem hebt sein Erzähler immer wieder Eigenschaften der Rasse sowohl der Türken als auch der Armenier hervor und er schreckt auch vor der Blut-Metapher nicht zurück. So schreibt er über Gabriel Bagradian, den armenischen Anführer: Uraltes Blut, uraltes Volk war in ihm [...], oder über den Apotheker Krikor: In ihm ist die ganze Zärtlichkeit der armenischen Rasse für den Geist zusammengedrängt, das Geheimnis aller uralten Völker [...] Ich würde das nicht erwähnen, wenn es bei diesen zwei Stellen geblieben wäre.

Wie man sieht ist mein Eindruck sehr ambivalent. Wenn man wöllte, könnte man das Buch Seite für Seite zerpflücken und in den Boden stampfen. Das will ich nicht, es wäre unfair und es steht mir nicht zu. Die grundlegende Intention wider Nationalismus und Barbarei ist mir zu wichtig und trotz aller Einschränkungen habe ich das Buch gerne gelesen und versuche es eben so zu akzeptieren, wie es ist. Fazit: In jedem Fall lesenswert, aber mit Abstand und Maske!
Profile Image for Amaranta.
548 reviews203 followers
March 18, 2018
“ Chi non è stato mai odiato a cagione della sua razza non può comprendere”.
Nell’aprile del 1915 cominciò quello che nella storia è ricordato come “ genocidio armeno”. Un milione e mezzo di armeni furono deportati ed eliminati ad opera dell’impero Ottomano per questioni di interesse. Fu quello che Hitler definì come una prova generale del suo progetto contro gli ebrei.
In un clima di terrore ci fu chi a testa alta e contro un grande impero sfidò la sorte per scappare ad un destino a senso unico. Cinquemila persone si barricarono sul Monte Mussa Dagh, il monte di Mosè, e organizzarono una resistenza armata.
Gabriele Bagradian è un giovane armeno trasferitosi a Parigi che rientra nella sua terra d’origine per un breve periodo con la moglie, Giulietta, e il figlio Stefano. Si ritrova a non potere più tornare in Europa, vede ogni giorno che passa i cambiamenti dello stato sociale attorno a sé. Tutto cambia. Anche lui. Ritrova la familiarità con le cose che ha perso, con la sua terra, le tradizioni, la lingua, i luoghi. E anche il figlio subisce questo fascino orientale pronto all’integrazione con la parte di sé che non conosceva, sente il richiamo del suo sangue armeno che lo rende orgoglioso, come il padre e che lentamente lo allontana dalla madre. Gabriele convince gli abitanti dei villaggi armeni, pronti alla deportazione, ad una resistenza armata sulle pendici del monte che durerà quaranta giorni. Saranno giorni di privazioni, angosce, lotte, morti, nascite, decisioni.
Mi ero immaginata questo monte come un posto brullo, impervio, sterile, pieno di rocce e spuntoni. Sono rimasta invece colpita dai suoi dorsi ondulati, dai ruscelli, da una natura rigogliosa e accogliente come “ ultimo sapore di Paradiso”. Le descrizioni sono particolareggiate e armoniche, quasi slegate dal resto della lettura che ho percepito in alcuni tratti lenta e molto asciutta.
La prima parte dedicata alle persecuzioni, scorre lenta, come le colonne che svuotano i villaggi, “un ritmo strascicato di milioni di passi, quale la terra non aveva ancor mai conosciuto”. Marce composte da milioni di piedi, sempre più vacillanti, parti di un solo corpo, di una sola sofferenza e di un unico urlo straziante di dolore. E’ un verme di morte che si muove nella polvere, che ci ricorda ben altri svilimenti umani, “un tappeto ambulante, intessuto di fili sanguinosi del destino, che nessuno può districare”. Il dolore degli armeni passa per Werfel attraverso gli occhi. Sono grandi, neri, vuoti, ingranditi dallo spavento di dolorose visioni millenarie come se già fossero arresi al loro destino. “ Beati i morti che hanno già tutto dietro di sé”.
Poi il ritmo cambia, diventa più concitato, veloce.
Il libro segue diversi livelli. Quello dell’azione militare sul monte, delle vicende politiche nella ricca Istanbul, del destino dei singoli sul monte. I personaggi sono forti. Madri orgogliose dei propri figli in abbracci dolorosi, come Sciuscìk e Haik, o dimentiche dei propri, prefiche mefitiche come figure immonde che vivono nel cimitero, presenze collegate fra due mondi. Stefano, l’eroe dal profumo di rosa, Gabriele, che si riscopre un uomo diverso da quello partito da Parigi, che diventa parte della sua terra. Anche il Mussa Dagh cambia: vive e protegge i suoi abitanti. Sul monte nascono 17 bambini, muoiono 432 persone e se ne salvano 4500 circa.
“L’uomo non sa chi è, prima di essere stato messo alla prova”.
E’ un libro faticoso, forse per la traduzione datata che lo appesantisce, ma la lettura ripaga e soddisfa.
“ Gli eroi omerici lottano intorno alle Portee Scee e ciascuno di loro crede che la vittoria o la sconfitta sia affidata alle sue armi. Ma la battaglia degli eroi non è che un riflesso della battaglia che sopra le loro teste combattono gli dei, per decidere la sorte umana. Gli dei stessi però non sanno che anche la loro lotta non fa che rispecchiare quella che da tempo è decisa nel petto dell’Altissimo, da cui derivano la pace e la guerra”.

Profile Image for Juliane.
98 reviews16 followers
December 8, 2009
An exceptionally well-written book which I highly recommend for everyone interested in the history of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the genocide committed by the Turks in 1915 and the local Armenian resistance against the activities of the Ottoman Empire in the region. Based on the real-life defense of Musa Dagh's Damlayik Werfel tells us the fictionalized story of the Turkish genocide of Armenians through the eyes of Gabriel Bagradian, an Armenian who, although growing up in his native village of Yoghonoluk near Musa Dagh, spent 23 years of his life living in France and Europe. He also tells the story of the Musa Dagh (which means "Moses Mountain"), the site of resistance by the Armenians. The plot is beautifully written and in my opinion can be considered as a great literature classic. Truly moving.
Profile Image for Xenja.
613 reviews56 followers
March 12, 2021
Tutti diciamo: certo, il genocidio armeno, il primo genocidio della storia, lo so.
Ma la verità è che non sappiamo niente finché non abbiamo letto questo libro.
Che è un romanzone epico, di guerra e non solo, con cento personaggi (che è meglio annotarsi); che forse non è perfetto, perché scritto impetuosamente, che talvolta è un po’ prolisso, ma più spesso appassionante; e che va letto, assolutamente. Perché leggendolo si capiscono tante cose, dagli eterni conflitti in Medio Oriente (proprio in questi giorni si risveglia la vecchia guerra per il Nagorno Karabakh, guerra di cui gli armeni sono ancora una volta vittime) all’altro genocidio, quello degli ebrei in Europa, che fu ispirato ai nazisti proprio da quello degli armeni.
E va letto perché quella del Mussa Dagh è una storia vera e assolutamente stupefacente, che a inventarla non ci si crederebbe.
"Il passato non è morto; anzi non è nemmeno passato." Come disse bene Faulkner. Soprattutto in Medio Oriente.
Profile Image for Lillian.
88 reviews3 followers
August 22, 2015
Last summer when the Yazidis of northern Iraq fled to the summit of Mt. Sinjar and waited desperately for rescue by someone -- anyone -- I had no idea how closely history was repeating itself. In 1933 Franz Werfel wrote a 900 page blockbuster about a very similar incident that took place in Turkey in 1915. This novel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, published in Germany and then the United States, kept the Armenian genocide from being forgotten and lost under the enormity of the other losses of WWI. Franz Werfel and his wife visited a carpet factory in Damascus while traveling through the Middle East in the winter of 1930 and this stop changed the focus of their trip. A number of maimed and crippled children were working the looms. Franz asked about them and was told they were Armenian orphans whose parents had been lost in the massacres, marches, deportations, and concentration camps of WWI. He and his wife were haunted by the eyes of these children and as they traveled continued to ask questions of any Armenians they met. One story that began to consume Franz was of 6 villages in southern Turkey, on the slopes of Musa Dagh (Mount Moses) near the Mediterranean coast.
In the summer of 1915 the Armenian villagers living here refused Turkish resettlement orders. They banded together under the leadership of Moses Der Kalousdian, a European-educated Armenian gentleman, and established an armed camp on Musa Dagh.

There they held out from July to September of 1915, repelling one Turkish attack after another, until passing French ships managed to see their distress flag and rescued the 4,200 of them who survived.

Franz Werfel's novel is based on this incident and it is absolutely compelling. Some of its readers in Germany and Eastern Europe were soon to find themselves facing very similar dire circumstances. One can see why the novel was passed hand-to-hand in the ghettos of Bialystock and Sosnowiec. That Franz Werfel was a Jew and wrote this novel before WWII again makes me believe in the incredible power of story and its immense value in conveying what is important about being human. Franz wrote, "The miserable sight of maimed and famished-looking refugee children, working in a carpet factory, gave me the final impulse to snatch the incomprehensible destiny of the Armenian people from the Hell of all that had taken place." Without knowing it he was also responding to the increasing warning signs in his own society and providing a guide for how to act in the face of evil.
Profile Image for Matt Howard.
105 reviews13 followers
February 23, 2009
The 1915 genocide of the Turks against the Armenians told through the eyes of an Armenian head-of-family. Truly grim without containing more than a hint of graphically described violence. In my opinion, a forgotten masterpiece.

Update: I read this book in my late teens - in other words, 50 years ago. At the time, I was unaware of the continuing campaign by Armenians to persuade modern Turkey to acknowledge the events of the time as genocide. Now, in 2009, Turkey's continued resistance to doing so is affecting foreign policy in more than one nation. The U.S. Congress considered a resolution on the topic that was defeated in late 2007 under heavy pressure from the White House and from Turkey. Further, witness the recent exchange of insults between the Turkish Prime Minister and the Israeli PM at the Davos conference.
Profile Image for Martin.
87 reviews29 followers
December 18, 2019
Dieses Mammutwerk, empfohlen von einem guten Freund, beschwört eine Kraft herauf, die ihresgleichen in der Literatur sucht und tief berührt. Die Sprache Werfels, elegant, fließend, lyrisch, ein Hochgenuss durchgehend auf annähernd 1000 Seiten und innerhalb weniger Monate bereits Anfang der Dreißiger des vorigen Jahrtausends niedergeschrieben, hat nichts von seiner unglaublich einnehmenden Wirkung verloren. Ganz im Gegenteil. Und genau daran muss sich Literatur messen lassen.

2006 wurde Werfel posthum die armenische Staatsbürgerschaft verliehen. Lest Werfel! Unbedingt.
Es gibt noch so viel zu entdecken ...
Profile Image for Rosenkavalier.
230 reviews93 followers
April 19, 2018
I massacri erano terminati per sempre. Il mondo progredito non li avrebbe più tollerati

Racconta Werfel che l'ispirazione per il romanzo gli venne dopo aver visto le misere condizioni in cui vivevano alcuni orfani armeni, impiegati come lavoranti in fabbriche di tappeti a Damasco, durante un viaggio in oriente intrapreso con la moglie negli anni venti. Da questo incontro, l'urgenza di raccontare la vicenda del genocidio degli armeni di Turchia ad opera del Triumvirato dei "Giovani Turchi" (Enver, Talaat, Djemal), che sarebbe poi stato esautorato da Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Forse l'occasione aiuta a spiegare qualcosa del tono del romanzo, che mi pare abbia un alto tasso di "esemplarietà", per certo versi inevitabile data l'origine del romanzo e il coinvolgimento emotivo di Werfel. D'altra parte, un romanzo che ambisca all'epica non può che proporre personaggi scolpiti, semi-monumentali, simbolici. Altri lettori nei loro commenti rilevano questo aspetto, innegabile.
In tutto questo, ho trovato il meglio dell'opera nella capacità dell'autore di mantenere comunque credibilmente umani (almeno) i protagonisti principali.

Il meccanismo di partenza non è originalissimo, ma ben utilizzato. Werfel inserisce un elemento (il franco-armeno Gabriele Bagradian con la sua famiglia) in un contesto estraneo (la sua comunità di origine in Turchia, dove non torna da decenni) e ne osserva l'evoluzione, la trasformazione in condottiero militare e capo carismatico, i suoi rapporti con le altre figure rappresentative del villaggio. Scritto così, potrebbe sembrare una forzosa metamorfosi a fini narrativi, ma a me è parsa la cosa migliore del libro, come detto.

Quanto alla struttura del romanzo, è interessante notare come Werfel non si fosse mai cimentato con un libro di queste dimensioni, proprio nel senso delle pagine. In seguito ci si avvicinerà, rimanendo comunque lontano dalla mole del Mussa Dagh.
Forse per la poca dimestichezza con la distanza, il romanzo mi è parso diseguale, altalenante, ci sono passi avvincenti alternati a momenti privi di interesse, con menzione per la storia rosa tra Giulietta Bagradian e Gonzague Maris, di cui avrei fatto volentieri a meno.
Naturalmente, i fatti storici sono di per sè talmente significativi da rendere il racconto comunque interessante e meritorio di essere conosciuto, ma Werfel esagera spesso, finendo per attutire l'effetto dei molti momenti di grande letteratura. Tra questi mi rimangono impressi soprattutto i passi che raccontano degli incontri del pastore protestante tedesco Johann Lepsius, ispirati a fatti realmente avvenuti, con il potente ministro turco e triumviro Enver.
Al contrario, mi sono risultate parecchio fastidiose le lunghe descrizioni dei giorni trascorsi nell'inattività tra gli armeni rinserrati sulle alture del Mussa Dagh, forse necessarie a ricreare il pathos dell'assedio, ma che avrei visto volentieri sostituite da qualche efficace ellisse.

In tutto questo, non aiuta la datatissima traduzione (risale al 1935, incredibile che non sia mai stata aggiornata nonostante la fama del libro) che mi rende impossibile giudicare compiutamente la scrittura. Inizialmente, sembrava in tono con l'esotismo del contesto, ma questa sensazione è evaporata con il (rapido) scorrere delle pagine, lasciando il posto a fatica e - a tratti - fastidio.

Molto ci sarebbe da dire sui temi storici trattati, sulla relazione tra le vicende turche degli anni 10 e quelle tedesche\europee degli anni 30-40. Altri commenti lo hanno già fatto, inutile ripetersi. Mi limito ad osservare che a Werfel riesce bene l'intreccio tra fatti storici e racconto di finzione.

In conclusione, un romanzo importante per quel che dice, per la memoria che ha certamente aiutato a preservare e tramandare, datato nell'impostazione, datato nella traduzione, pieno di momenti meravigliosi alternati a lunghe e francamente futili digressioni. Io personalmente non ne sentivo il bisogno e, per inclinazione personale, preferisco la sintesi e la compattezza.
Lo consiglierei? Onestamente, no.
Devo però riconoscere che mi ha fatto venire la curiosità, per così dire, di saperne di più, così ho letto subito di seguito La masseria delle allodole, di Antonia Arslan. Del tutto diverso il tono, la lingua, lo stile, le motivazioni (è un racconto familiare).
Consiglierei il libro della Arslan? Decisamente sì.
Profile Image for Jane.
1,535 reviews173 followers
May 22, 2022
Upon my reading it as a teenager years ago, this novel held me spellbound; I had the same reaction upon this rereading, even with 800+ pages! This was my very first exposure to the fact of the Armenian Massacres of the 20th century.

The story involves an Armenian, Gabriel Bagradian, who has returned to his family home in Syria from years of living in France, He is accompanied by his French wife, Juliette, and French-born son, Stephan. The devastating death marches of Armenians have begun. Gabriel leads the inhabitants of the seven villages in his area to Musa Dagh [Mount of Moses]; he is an Ottoman officer and has knowledge of military tactics. On Damyalik Plateau they set up a village under the leadership of some of the leading citizens. On the mountain, they for forty days carry out armed resistance against the Turks. Gabriel is their military commander and final word on other Council decisions lie with the Gregorian priest, Ter Haigasun. The book ends in a shattering climax. The last paragraph, and indeed the whole last chapter, left me breathless.

Translation was very readable, with excellent pacing. Not a word was wasted. Highly recommended
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 1 book72 followers
December 31, 2020
Kad rakstu savas pārdomas par grāmatu, parasti tā man ir blakus, atvērta, lai varu apskatīt kādu piemirstu varoņa vārdu, izrakstīt citātu vai vienkārši paelpot lasīto stāstu. "Musa Daga četrdesmit dienas", smaga kā pats romāna centrālais kalns, stāv blakus un es nejaudāju to vairs atvērt.

Pilna dzīvesmīlestības, cilvēkmīlestības, cilvēknejēdzību. Tik pilna kā šis gads. Ceru, ka no vēstures pārņemam mācības no nejēdzībās tapušā ļaunuma. Ceru, ka nākamajā gadā pāries mīlestība. Pārējais lai paliek aizvērtos vākos.

Romāns kā piemineklis cietušajiem, ne tikai tuksnesī mirt izsūtītajiem armēņiem un tiem, kas dažās drosmes saliņās palika, lai cīnītos par savām mājām, dzīvībām un tautas eksistenci, bet arī visiem citiem smago kalnu nastu nesējiem šodien. Visu cieņu.
Profile Image for Yigal Zur.
Author 10 books126 followers
February 8, 2019
amazing story. every one interested in Armenian modern history should read
Profile Image for Zek.
423 reviews22 followers
September 5, 2019
רומן רחב יריעה של פרנץ ורפל היהודי האוסטרי על גבורת כמה אלפי הארמנים שנאחזו ב"מוסה דאג" (הר משה) 40 יום כנגד הנוגש הטורקי שבא להשמידם. הספר הפך לקלאסיקה ספרותי בכלל ובפרט בעיני הארמנים. זהו ספר שכל ארמני מכיר כמו שכל יהודי מכיר, או אמור להכיר, את התנ"ך. רצח העם הארמני בידי הטורקים נחשב לרצח העם הראשון שהתרחש במאה העשרים ואשר עליו היטלר, ימח שמו וזכרו, הסתמך כשנשאל לגבי ה"פתרון הסופי" של היהודים כשענה (פחות או יותר) "אם בהשמדת העם הארמני אף מעצמה לא עשתה כלום כך גם יקרה לגבי השמדת העם היהודי". עד היום כל ממשלות טורקיה סירבו לקחת אחריות לכך ומדינת ישראל, למרבה הבושה, טרם הכירה ברצח עם זה מסיבות פוליטיות.
פרנץ ורפל היהודי דאג, למיטב הבנתי מקריאת הספר, לשתול כל מיני רמזים והקבלות בין הארמנים ליהודים. למשל שם הספר "40 יום של מוסה דאג" מזכיר את 40 הימים שבהם שהה משה על ההר לאחר "מעמד הר סיני" ועוד.
זהו ספר קלאסי כאמור, מרשים ומומלץ ביותר.
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Alaska).
1,286 reviews421 followers
June 16, 2013
This is very good historical fiction. There are a few slow spots, but mostly quite well-written and a page-turner. The leader, Gabriel Bagradian, is the primary focus of the story, but there is a large cast of characters and the story is told from these various viewpoints. Two pages in this edition list these named characters, and there are also several pages of regional terms helpful to the reader's understanding.

While I believe Turkey still refuses to officially acknowledge the Armenian genocide of WWI, this story is otherwise universally acknowledged to be accurate. The Armenians were "expatriated." I don't know whether there were camps, but I think there were no large camps. For the most part, the people simple died on the forced marches. However, this story tells of those in several villages near the Mediterranean in what is now southwest Turkey - not far from Aleppo, Syria in the news today - who refused to be "expatriated" and chose instead to fight.

It is amazing to me that this first holocaust of the 20th Century was penned by a German in 1933, just as Hitler was coming to power. And especially so, when Werfel includes this:
Had men the right to work out skilful plans by which this or that people should be stamped out? Was there even, as he had asserted a thousand times there was, enough practical basis for such a scheme? Who is to say that one people is worse or better than another? Certainly men cannot say it.

Profile Image for Rhomboid Goatcabin.
125 reviews4 followers
December 31, 2016
What a ride old Master Werfel has taken me along on. As a student of Classical Armenian, I've recently been trying to get my hands on everything (and, indeed, anything) to do with the Armenian genocide (aghet or ceghaspanutyun in the lingo) and Werfel's '40 Days' is an unescapable classic in the field, its importance to Armenians and victims of ethnic violence worldwide attested to by monuments in both sculpture and writing.

And for good reason: Werfel's tale explores the entirety of the Anatolian Armenian experience with documentary acumen and visceral intimacy, freely moving in focus from the principal protagonist to other characters, even those thousands of miles away, and even the populace as a whole. His perspective is psychological and narrative, macro- and microscopic, bringing the suffering and spirit of the Musa Dagh Armenians into epic relief while also giving the 'Big Bad' Turks complex and fair treatment, rather than painting them black, and even bringing the perpetrators of the Genocide, the Young Turk triumvirate of Enver, Jemal and Talaat into the forefront every once in a while.

For better or worse, Werfel is very much concerned with ethnicity, identification and nationalism. His take here is necessarily that of his time, and may thus run afoul of more progressive readers of today - but once one gets used to the particular 'race discourse,' one does begin to empathize with it and note that, considering the time (note that '40 Days' was published in the 1930s!), it is fairly modern and sufferable.
Equally a product of its time, though it often appears rather antiquated even for the 1930s to me, is Werfel's language, which, though poetic and acute, can become obtuse and bulky at times, betraying a very 19th century outlook on human fate and identity. But, as so often, the sheer poise and depth of the entire presentation more than makes up for the reader's effort, if he is prepared to let Werfel work his magic for a while.

My main misgiving with the novel, however, is indeed its length. Clocking in at well over 900 pages in most prints, it requires constant application and patience; many passages seem, to the modern reader, painstakingly drawn out and abridgeable. All too often, I found myself thinking Werfel could have put more editing work in, while simultaneously admiring his prose and scope, which clearly show that Werfel intended every paragraph to be exactly as it was printed. And yet, and yet, the sheer length does weigh heavily on the reader's enjoyment, and I am quite at a loss to justify my own irrationally clement 5-star rating.

Perhaps it is the documentary excellence, or the astute and close portrayal of characters and scenes, or simply the achievement in its entirety; Werfel's work is quite unparalleled and an inevitable read for anyone desiring a deep impression of genocide and resistance. I would advocate '40 Days' be required reading everywhere, but the terribly low exposure the genocide and ordeal of the Armenians 1915-1922 have received renders my plea quite ridiculous.
And yet my unconditional recommendation stands: read The Forty Days of Musa Dagh - it is an unforgettable and invaluable experience.
Profile Image for Patryx.
434 reviews136 followers
March 31, 2018
Franz Werfel scrisse questo romanzo nel 1929 e lo pubblicò nel 1933, quindi 18 anni dopo il genocidio dei cristiani armeni ad opera dei turchi e 5 anni prima che lo stesso Werfel lasciasse Berlino a causa delle leggi razziali emanate dal governo di Hitler. Il libro di Werfel, quindi, ha più chiavi di lettura: opera letteraria, testimonianza del crimine contro gli armeni, manifesto politico a difesa delle organizzazioni politiche sovranazionali (Impero Ottomano e indirettamente Impero Austro-ungarico) e, per noi venuti dopo, tragica anticipazione dell’Olocausto. L’intreccio di questi elementi rende complicato il tentativo di scrivere le proprie impressioni.
A Werfel va certamente il merito di aver portato all’attenzione dei lettori europei la tragedia degli armeni, di cui poco o nulla era trapelato: nel corso del dialogo tra Giovanni Lepsius (un pastore protestante tedesco che si prodiga a favore degli armeni) ed Enver Pascià sono pronunciate le due frasi famose (“La destinazione è il nulla” “Il problema armeno non esiste più”) le quali chiarirebbero che quello degli armeni è stato un vero e proprio genocidio e non la semplice violenza contro dei supposti nemici che poi è degenerata sino a trasformarsi in un massacro.
Leggendo questo dialogo, inoltre, ho avuto una fortissima sensazione di dejà vu: la caratterizzazione di Enver Pascià e il contesto generale potrebbero benissimo adattarsi a un romanzo sull’Olocausto, ma lo sterminio degli ebrei è ancora di là da venire e lo stesso Werfel non immaginava un futuro così atroce per gli ebrei anche se sapeva benissimo che ideologie simili avevano dei sostenitori anche in Europa.
Un’opera quindi di grande valore sociale che, secondo me, travalica quello letterario. Il romanzo è attraversato da un dualismo manicheo che estremizza le situazioni e indebolisce la caratterizzazione dei personaggi: oriente/occidente, armeni/europei, musulmani/cristiani, religiosi/politici, commercianti/intellettuali, spirito/materia. Le parti più riuscite sono quelle corali in cui convergono tutte le linee narrative, la tensione sale e le scene descritte diventano vivide e ricche di pathos; meno successo raggiunge nella descrizione dei personaggi, che non vanno al di là di categorie prototipiche in cui si ritrovano tutti i tratti ritenuti tipici di un gruppo o un’etnia (tutte le armene hanno grandi occhi, gli europei sono deboli e superficiali, i commercianti sono avidi).
Il personaggio principale, Gabriele Bagradian, non sfugge a questa mancanza di profondità, anche se riesce ad acquisire la tragicità dell’eroe classico diventando un personaggio difficile da dimenticare.
Profile Image for Ana-Maria Bujor.
851 reviews54 followers
November 18, 2022
This simply is a very good story that delivers all around. Mostly interesting and well developed characters, great setting, plenty of heart, action, tension, good dialogue, and most of all a great message. This book does a lot right and manages to support a cause while also being good literature. As it should be.
Set during the time of the Armenian genocide, it is based on the true story of the resistance of Musa Dagh, now semi-legendary. The book does not beat you over the head with its humanitarian message and has the courage to show the flaws of the victims as well. Moreover I appreciate it does not delve into misery porn (though it definitely had plenty of material to use for that purpose). Is it flawless? No. But I enjoyed losing myself in it so much, especially as I found it in an absolutely splendid translation, that I wholeheartedly give it 5 stars. Absolutely deserved.
Profile Image for Mariam.
64 reviews2 followers
July 1, 2022
Ինձ ինչ հիշում եմ ուզում էի էս գիրքը կարդայի։Վերջապես կարդացի ու պիտի ասեմ,որ շատ ավելի լավն էր քան սպասում էի։
Նախ ինքը շատ հզոր գիրք ա հայրենասիրություն քարոզելու տեսանկյունից,կարդում ես անկախ քեզնից ուզում ես ավելի լավ մարդ ու քաղաքացի դառնաս,ու շատ տխրել էի,որ հայերեն reviewներ չգտա։
Բացի դրանից Վերֆելը շատ դիպուկ ա ամեն ինչ նկարագրում ու թարգմանությունն էլ էր լավը, նենց որ 900 էջը առանց ձանձրանալու կարդում ես։
Հա ու Վերֆելը դիպուկ ու շատ մանրամասն նկարագրել էր երկու ազգերի հոգեբանությունը,իրենց նմանություններն ու տարբերությունները։Բացի դրանից Վերֆելի կերտած բոլոր կերպարները ամբողջական էին,իրենց բնավորության բնորոշ գծերով։
Գլխավոր հերոսը`Գաբրիել Բագրատյանը, համամարդկային ամենավեհ ու ամենամաքուր արժեքների կրողն էր։
Մի խոսքով տպավորված եմ շատ,իրոք ուժեղ գիրք էր`բոլոր առումներով։
Profile Image for Kristine Kornijanova.
234 reviews9 followers
August 2, 2020
Izmocīju - pārāk gari, pārāk daudz lirisku atkāpju un tas viss nomācošā stereotipu zupā. Papildus tam vēl, teatrālā manierē, ļaunie turki attēloti kā neglīti, slimīgi, uzblīduši utml. iepretī cietušajiem -skaistajiem lielacu armēņiem. Tai pat laikā, grāmatas vērtība saprotama un par to arī 3*.
Profile Image for Yaara.
359 reviews37 followers
November 10, 2021
אלוהים, אני לא מאמינה שסיימתי סופסוף.
אני לא יכולה להגיד שזה היה סוחף, לרוב פתחתי את הספר מתוך מטרה לסיים אותו ולא כי רציתי לבלות את זמני על ראשו של מוסא דאג.
אבל כן היה מעניין, לרוב. דיי מדכא, מן הסתם.
הקריאה עצמה דיי מאתגרת כי התרגום מאוד ארכאי, יש בו דברים יפים, אבל יש דברים שלא התיישנו טוב. אה וגם ממש היו חסרות לי הערות שוליים, לדוגמא לגבי דרגות בצבא התורכי. יש גוגל, אבל בכל זאת...
בקיצור, סימנתי וי.
Profile Image for Ute.
192 reviews4 followers
January 8, 2019
Habe damals gelernt, für die Auslösung eines Völkermordes braucht es keinen Anlass von Seiten der Opfer (in diesem Fall der Armenier, Franz Werfel meinte aber auch die Juden).
Wer genaueres über die Hintergründe wissen will, dem sei Tod in der Wüste. Der Völkermord an den Armeniern empfohlen.

Werde des Buch nach 40 Jahren jetzt noch einmal lesen, als eBook :-).

erster Satz - "Wie komme ich hierher?" (S. 13)
letzter - Und das Kreuz des Sohnes lag auf seinem Herzen. (S. 976)
Profile Image for Paulo Jan .
155 reviews
December 5, 2016
Maybe it was the longest book I ever read , but it was with great pleasure and interest that I got to page 878. A heroic saga of the brave Armenian people in the first world war, that resisted bravely against the huge Turkish army trapped on the mountain Musa Dagh for 40 days until rescued by Allied ships. A fascinating account of great faith, courage, endurance, which deserved to be portrayed on film. The backstage of the Armenian genocide are presented very clearly so that it is impossible to deny it as a historical fact. So precious to own this book in my mother tongue.
April 3, 2020
Few years ago, during my flight, I met person who was sitting next to me. It happened to be Armenian consul in my country, and also writter, translator from Armenian to my language and otherwise. He shortly explained me about that genocide and recomended me some books to read about that story. You will not find many books or informations about this topic on internet. That’s why I am very glad that I even found example of this book and that had ability to read it. Anyway, long story short, book you have to read it and to feel it.
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