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Not Sex, but Sexy

Gabriele Annan: Alma Mahler-Werfel, 10 December 1998

Alma Mahler-WerfelThe Diaries 1898-1902 
translated by Antony Beaumont.
Faber, 512 pp., £25, November 1998, 0 571 19340 4
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... envy the swans, Who get Gustav and Walter – you never did falter – With Gustav and Walter and Franz. Franz Werfel may not have been quite up to the standard of Gustav Mahler or the architect Walter Gropius, but at the time of their first meeting in 1917 he was a hot literary property – and again in 1941 when he ...

Howitzers on the Hill

Neal Ascherson: ‘The Forty Days of Musa Dagh’, 8 March 2018

The Forty Days of Musa Dagh 
by Franz Werfel, translated by Geoffrey Dunlop, revised by James Reidel.
Penguin, 912 pp., £10.99, January 2018, 978 0 241 33286 3
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... forgotten by everyone except the Armenians, it was taken up by the poet, playwright and novelist Franz Werfel. He transformed it into The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, the enormous, grand-manner novel which many considered his finest work. Werfel, who died in Californian exile in 1945, is now in the ‘almost ...

She gives me partridges

Bee Wilson: Alma Mahler, 5 November 2015

Malevolent Muse: The Life of Alma Mahler 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Donald Arthur.
Northeastern, 360 pp., £29, May 2015, 978 1 55553 789 0
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... Alma Mahler Werfel​ celebrated her 70th birthday at home in Beverly Hills on the last day of August 1949. A brass band played as guests chose from a Mitteleuropean selection of drinks: champagne, black coffee or Alma’s favourite, Bénédictine (by the end of her life, she was drinking a bottle a day). In the dining room, an abundant buffet was laid out ...

Magic Thrift

J.P. Stern, 16 September 1982

Thomas Mann: The Making of an Artist 1875-1911 
by Richard Winston.
Constable, 325 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 09 460060 0
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... labour later, Thomas Mann, now in exile in California, was summoned to the deathbed of his friend, Franz Werfel, to hear Werfel express his delight and wonder at being in the presence of ‘the author of that immortal masterpiece’. ‘I wonder,’ Thomas Mann noted, ‘whether after all it is not this book, among all ...

A Regular Bull

Christopher Hitchens, 31 July 1997

Whittaker Chambers: A Biography 
by Sam Tanenhaus.
Random House, 640 pp., $35, February 1997, 0 394 58559 3
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... by his pen. He was a fine translator as well as writer, and brought some works of Thomas Mann and Franz Werfel into English. Only a paltry nickel-and-dime dispute lost him the commission to complete Scott-Moncrieff’s version of A la recherche du temps perdu. (As you reel from this thought, reflect that instead he attained immortality by his translation ...

Serious Dr Sonne

Philip Purser, 6 December 1990

The Play of the Eyes 
by Elias Canetti, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Deutsch, 329 pp., £14.95, August 1990, 0 233 98570 0
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Yellow Street 
by Veza Canetti, translated by Ian Mitchell.
Halban, 139 pp., £11.95, November 1990, 1 870015 36 3
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... daughter Manon Gropius, she produces giant, perfectly-formed tears like pearls. Her new husband Franz Werfel sighs and fidgets through one of Canetti’s readings before finally stalking out, to be damned as a philistine as well as a non-stop, vacuous talker and, worst of all, a popular novelist. James Joyce makes a brief appearance at another ...

Bring me another Einstein

Matthew Reisz, 22 June 2000

American Pimpernel: The Man who Saved the Artists on Hitler’s Death List 
by Andy Marino.
Hutchinson, 416 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 0 09 180053 6
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... Casals is probably worth 100,000. Picasso 50,000. Your trio [Feuchtwanger, Heinrich Mann and Franz Werfel] brought in 35,000. Since their arrival we have had nothing good to offer the public and they are pretty shopworn by this time. See if you can dig up something big. Marino gives most space to the Manns and the Werfels. For the crossing into ...

Marseille, 1940-43

Neal Ascherson, 18 July 2013

... Mann, Hannah Arendt, Anna Seghers, Simone Weil, Arthur Koestler, Victor Serge, Walter Benjamin, Franz Werfel and his wife Alma Mahler, Lion Feuchtwanger, Konrad Heiden (Hitler’s first truthful biographer), Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Moïse Kisling, the young Claude Lévi-Strauss … A band of surrealists led by Max Ernst (Tristan Tzara, Wifredo ...

Mann v. Mann

Colm Tóibín: The Brother Problem, 3 November 2011

House of Exile: War, Love and Literature, from Berlin to Los Angeles 
by Evelyn Juers.
Allen Lane, 400 pp., £25, May 2011, 978 1 84614 461 5
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... bank accounts, selling their furniture.’ They left in September 1940 with Thomas’s son Golo, Franz Werfel and Alma Mahler (who had sent ahead a dozen or so suitcases which contained Mahler’s scores and the manuscript of Bruckner’s Third Symphony, ‘as well’, Juers adds, ‘as her extensive wardrobe’). They had to walk across the ...

In His Pink Negligée

Colm Tóibín: The Ruthless Truman Capote, 21 April 2005

The Complete Stories 
by Truman Capote.
Random House, 400 pp., $24.95, September 2004, 0 679 64310 9
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Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote 
edited by Gerald Clarke.
Random House, 487 pp., $27.95, September 2004, 0 375 50133 9
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... something unspeakably diabolic; he turned out to be Leon Feuchtwanger, only I thought he was Franz Werfel.’ In Venice in Harry’s Bar in 1950 he meets a man whom he introduces to all as Henry Green: He asked me to lunch the next day. I was surprised to find him accompanied at lunch by an obvious piece of Limehouse trade: I’d not thought ...

Set on Being Singular

Nick Richardson: Schoenberg, 20 October 2011

Arnold Schoenberg 
by Bojan Bujic.
Phaidon, 240 pp., £15, 0 7148 4614 7
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... then became the sounding board for his feelings of rejection; the work, in the words of Franz Werfel, who was shown an early draft of the piece, of the ‘Jew who suffers from himself’. With a work on this scale, Schoenberg felt that the expression of emotion was no longer a sufficient structuring principle: he was worried that long passages ...

I Could Sleep with All of Them

Colm Tóibín: The Mann Family, 6 November 2008

In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story 
by Andrea Weiss.
Chicago, 302 pp., £14.50, May 2008, 978 0 226 88672 5
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... escaped from the Nazis by walking over the Pyrenees with his uncle Heinrich, Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel. Isherwood, who was in the habit of thinking well of people, thought Klaus ‘without vanity or self-consciousness’; ‘his great charm,’ Isherwood said, ‘lay in this openness, this eager, unaffected approach.’ Others didn’t share his ...

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