New York: Viking Press, 1942. First edition. Octavo, original oatmeal cloth, red top edge, uncut, original dust jacket. Book with minor spotting to the preliminary pages, dust jacket with only minor edge-wear. An excellent copy. Item #295
"IN THE LAST DAYS OF JUNE 1940, IN FLIGHT FROM OUR MORTAL ENEMY AFTER THE COLLAPSE OF FRANCE, WE REACHED THE CITY OF LOURDES" First edition in English of Franz Werfel's popular story of Lourdes and Saint Bernadette Soubirous, written in the middle of the Second World War by a German-Jewish refugee living in Los Angeles. This copy boldly inscribed by the author in his new home in the year of publication: "Franz Werfel/1942/L.A." and complete in dust jacket designed by Valenti Angelo. The historical novel, structured like the Rosary, recounts Bernadette's encounters with the Lady of the Grotto in 1858. Franz Werfel was not the first writer to explore the life of Bernadette Soubirous but the personal significance of Lourdes to Werfel lent an immediacy to the story and the book struck a chord with readers. The Song of Bernadette spent weeks on the bestseller lists before it was quickly adapted into a 1943 film starring Jennifer Jones. Of special interest is Werfel's Preface, dated "Los Angeles, May 1941" recounting his epiphany in Lourdes: "One day in my distress I made a vow. I vowed that if I escaped from this desperate situation and reached the saving shores of America, I would put off all other tasks and sing, as best I could, the song of Bernadette." Bernadette was beatified in 1925 and canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1933. She is the patron saint of sick persons, the family, and poverty. Translated by Ludwig Lewisohn, preceded by a 1941 Stockholm edition in Swedish.