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The Song of Bernadette - The Unanswered Question - Ives
The Song of Bernadette - The Unanswered Question - Ives
Published: 2008/05/20
Channel: mondbruder
The Song of Bernadette-Jennifer Jones-Arvo Pärt
The Song of Bernadette-Jennifer Jones-Arvo Pärt
Published: 2008/05/20
Channel: mondbruder
Kramer
Kramer's Song - Broadway Barks - Bernadette Peters
Published: 2009/02/21
Channel: Misstress Furter
ERICH WOLFGANG KORGOLD ~ Prayer Opus 32
ERICH WOLFGANG KORGOLD ~ Prayer Opus 32
Published: 2010/09/18
Channel: Brendan Carroll
"Witch
"Witch's Lament" - Into The Woods (1991) - Bernadette Peters
Published: 2013/04/07
Channel: Brock Graham
The Poetry of Murder Bernadette Steele Book Trailer
The Poetry of Murder Bernadette Steele Book Trailer
Published: 2008/03/13
Channel: cosproductions
HSV 7 Station Ident and Ivan Hutchinson
HSV 7 Station Ident and Ivan Hutchinson's Late Movie, 1987
Published: 2014/04/19
Channel: scana1979
WILD by Cheryl Strayed and narrated by Bernadette Dunne (excerpt from the audiobook)
WILD by Cheryl Strayed and narrated by Bernadette Dunne (excerpt from the audiobook)
Published: 2012/06/04
Channel: Penguin Random House Audio
L
L'effrontée - Sarà perché ti amo? 1985 - Ricchi e Poveri 1981
Published: 2010/06/03
Channel: lejukeboxer1
Book trailer - WHERE
Book trailer - WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE
Published: 2012/08/04
Channel: SupermariaSemple
Serafina Dance Scene
Serafina Dance Scene
Published: 2017/07/01
Channel: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Bastille - Pompeii
Bastille - Pompeii
Published: 2013/01/21
Channel: BastilleVEVO
Igor Stravinsky - Symphony in 3 Movements [With score]
Igor Stravinsky - Symphony in 3 Movements [With score]
Published: 2017/05/05
Channel: Damon J.H.K.
Ja
Ja'Net DuBois At The 20th Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival
Published: 2013/03/28
Channel: mitcheld100
V I O L E N T M A E - K I D - IOU1 - Wynonna Earp music S2E2
V I O L E N T M A E - K I D - IOU1 - Wynonna Earp music S2E2
Published: 2017/06/17
Channel: Movie and TV Show Soundtracks
Bernadette Novels (1st Batch @ COH)
Bernadette Novels (1st Batch @ COH)
Published: 2011/06/21
Channel: louiserui1
The Cinderella Deception
The Cinderella Deception
Published: 2013/03/12
Channel: Ali Novak
Where
Where'd You Go Bernadette
Published: 2013/04/19
Channel: Natalie Eierman
Where
Where'd You Go, Bernadette A Novel - Kindle edition by Maria Semple Literature Fiction Kindl
Published: 2016/07/18
Channel: xiao dantuma
Black Robe ~ 1991 full movie.
Black Robe ~ 1991 full movie.
Published: 2015/03/30
Channel: Willemina
Igor Stravinsky - Symphony in Three Movements
Igor Stravinsky - Symphony in Three Movements
Published: 2014/03/15
Channel: pelodelperro
The Jungle Book Song
The Jungle Book Song
Published: 2016/04/01
Channel: LaughingColours
Old Major
Old Major's Dream
Published: 2012/06/01
Channel: Bernadette Steele
Waiting to Exhale (1/5) Movie CLIP - Bernie Burns John
Waiting to Exhale (1/5) Movie CLIP - Bernie Burns John's Clothes (1995) HD
Published: 2015/10/15
Channel: Movieclips
Book Review: Where
Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Published: 2015/01/31
Channel: getbookish
Listen to Unbuttoning America Audiobook by Ardis Cameron, narrated by Bernadette Dunne
Listen to Unbuttoning America Audiobook by Ardis Cameron, narrated by Bernadette Dunne
Published: 2017/01/18
Channel: Tory Biddle
Maria Semple pitches WHERE
Maria Semple pitches WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE to Seattle book folk.
Published: 2012/04/27
Channel: SupermariaSemple
Bernadette Makes You Feel Good
Bernadette Makes You Feel Good
Published: 2009/09/04
Channel: Misstress Furter
Unless a Grain of Wheat By Bernadette Farrell
Unless a Grain of Wheat By Bernadette Farrell
Published: 2015/01/21
Channel: Agnes Choo
The Big Bang Theory - Little Miss Bernadette
The Big Bang Theory - Little Miss Bernadette
Published: 2015/03/18
Channel: The Big Bang Theory Australia
Waiting to Exhale (3/5) Movie CLIP - Ladies Night (1995) HD
Waiting to Exhale (3/5) Movie CLIP - Ladies Night (1995) HD
Published: 2015/10/15
Channel: Movieclips
The Song of David — Official Teaser 3 — Amy Harmon Media
The Song of David — Official Teaser 3 — Amy Harmon Media
Published: 2015/06/10
Channel: Focus4Media
Ave Maria (Deus ti Salvet, Maria) - Fabrizio De Andrè
Ave Maria (Deus ti Salvet, Maria) - Fabrizio De Andrè
Published: 2011/12/15
Channel: TarkusChristmas
First Wives Club :  Sam Harris ... Back to Broadway?!
First Wives Club : Sam Harris ... Back to Broadway?!
Published: 2009/01/26
Channel: Sam Harris
La maman et la putain (1973) - Jean Eustache
La maman et la putain (1973) - Jean Eustache
Published: 2016/09/03
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Ways to Disappear Audiobook Excerpt
Ways to Disappear Audiobook Excerpt
Published: 2016/02/11
Channel: Audiobooks.com
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Santa's Christmas: Learn English (US) with subtitles - Story for Children "BookBox.com"
Published: 2011/05/19
Channel: bookboxinc
The Voice - Inspiring & Emotional Blind Auditions PART 5
The Voice - Inspiring & Emotional Blind Auditions PART 5
Published: 2017/02/04
Channel: Alion
First Wives Club:  Opening Night Reviews!
First Wives Club: Opening Night Reviews!
Published: 2009/08/06
Channel: Sam Harris
Cyberdelity: Chapter 1 Preview
Cyberdelity: Chapter 1 Preview
Published: 2015/02/19
Channel: Bernadette Marson, PhD, ACSW, LCSW-R
Marilyn Monroe - The Dutch Girl Sitting 1956, by Milton Greene
Marilyn Monroe - The Dutch Girl Sitting 1956, by Milton Greene
Published: 2013/12/17
Channel: Peter Sneyder Marilyn Monroe
Van Gogh Cut Off a Lot More Than His Earlobe
Van Gogh Cut Off a Lot More Than His Earlobe
Published: 2016/07/12
Channel: Newsclik
Nicholas Sparks Two by Two Part2 Audiobook
Nicholas Sparks Two by Two Part2 Audiobook
Published: 2017/05/20
Channel: Carl Reece
Full movie - The Call of the Wild - american movies 1935
Full movie - The Call of the Wild - american movies 1935
Published: 2014/09/03
Channel: Kate F. Suarez
Heaven 17 - Play To Win 1981
Heaven 17 - Play To Win 1981
Published: 2011/01/02
Channel: memorylane1980s
The New Game of Thrones Trailer is Here!
The New Game of Thrones Trailer is Here!
Published: 2017/06/22
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Make Me with bonus short story Small Wars A Jack Reacher Novel
Make Me with bonus short story Small Wars A Jack Reacher Novel
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Love You MOM doodle  dream A beautiful and inspiring coloring book for Moms everywhere
Love You MOM doodle dream A beautiful and inspiring coloring book for Moms everywhere
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Make Way for Ducklings Viking Kestrel picture books
Make Way for Ducklings Viking Kestrel picture books
Published: 2016/05/21
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Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book 1 The Sword of Summer
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Book 1 The Sword of Summer
Published: 2016/05/21
Channel: Bernadette H
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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First UK edition
(publ. Hamish Hamilton, 1942)

The Song of Bernadette (German: Das Lied von Bernadette) is a 1941 novel that tells the story of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, who, from February to July 1858 reported eighteen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France. The novel was written by Franz Werfel and translated into English by Lewis Lewisohn in 1942.[1] It was extremely popular, spending more than a year on the New York Times Best Seller list and 13 weeks in first place.

The novel was adapted into the 1943 film The Song of Bernadette starring Jennifer Jones.

Origins[edit]

Franz Werfel was a German-speaking Jew born in Prague in 1890. He became well known as a playwright. In the 1930s in Vienna, he began writing popular satirical plays lampooning the Nazi regime until the Anschluss, when the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler annexed Austria in 1938. Werfel and his wife Alma (Gustav Mahler's widow) fled to Paris until the Germans invaded France in 1940.

In his Personal Preface to The Song of Bernadette, Franz Werfel takes up the story:

In the last days of June 1940, in flight after the collapse of France, the two of us, my wife and I, had hoped to elude our mortal enemies in time to cross the Spanish frontier to Portugal, but had to flee back to the interior of France on the very night German troops occupied the frontier town of Hendaye. The Pyreenean départements had turned into a phantasmagoria – a very camp of chaos.

This strange migration of people wandered about on the roads in their thousands obstructing towns and villages: Frenchmen, Belgians, Dutchmen, Poles, Czechs, Austrians, exiled Germans; and, mingled with these, soldiers of the defeated armies. There was barely food enough to still the extreme pangs of hunger. There was no shelter to be had. Anyone who had obtained possession of an upholstered chair for his night's rest was an object of envy. In endless lines, stood the cars of the fugitives, piled high with household gear, with mattresses and beds. There was no petrol to be had.

A family settled in Pau told us that Lourdes was the one place where, if luck were kind, one might find a roof. Since Lourdes was but thirty kilometres distant, we were advised to make the attempt and knock on its gates. We followed this advice and found refuge at last in the little town of Lourdes in the foothills of the Pyrenees.[2]

Hunted by the Gestapo, the Werfels experienced anxiety for their hosts as well as themselves. A number of families took turns in giving them shelter. These people told the Werfels the story of Bernadette. Werfel vowed that, if he and his wife escaped, he would put off all tasks and write Bernadette's story into a novel.

Plot[edit]

The story of Bernadette Soubirous and Our Lady of Lourdes is told by Werfel with many embellishments, such as the chapter in which Bernadette is invited to board at the home of a rich woman who thinks Bernadette's visionary "lady" might be her deceased daughter. In side-stories and back story, the history of the town of Lourdes, the contemporary political situation in France, and the responses of believers and detractors are delineated. Werfel describes Bernadette as a religious peasant girl who would have preferred to continue on with an ordinary life, but takes the veil as a nun after she is told that because "Heaven chose her", she must choose Heaven. Bernadette's service as a sacristan, artist-embroiderer, and nurse in the convent are depicted, along with her spiritual growth. After her death, her body as well as her life are scrutinized for indications that she is a saint, and at last she is canonized.

The novel is laid out in five sections of ten chapters each, in a deliberate nod to the Catholic Rosary.

Unusual for a novel, the entire first part, which describes the events on the day that Bernadette first saw the Virgin Mary, is told in the present tense, as if it were happening at the moment. The rest of the novel is in the past tense.

Major themes[edit]

Werfel presents Bernadette as a young girl of artless simplicity and sincere piety who is regarded as stupid by those who do not know her well. He also depicts her as strong-willed and determined to carry out the wishes of the "Lady of Massabielle" whom she alone can see. Her fight, to have the Lady's existence and requests acknowledged and fulfilled, is played out against the larger canvas of French politics and the contemporary social climate. Explanatory digressions illustrate what Werfel perceives as an ongoing conflict between a human need to believe in the supernatural or in anomalous phenomena; a true religion, which should not address such "popular" manifestations; and the ideas of the Enlightenment and of atheism.

References to history, geography and current science[edit]

Apparently, Werfel obtained accounts of Bernadette from Lourdes families whose older members had known her. It is possible that a great deal of folklore and legend had been added to the plain facts by the time Werfel heard the tale.

Lourdes pilgrims often want to know more about Bernadette and do not realize that far from being a simple-minded shepherdess, she was a strong-willed young woman who stood by her story in the face of tough church and government inquiry. Werfel was able to work this aspect of her personality into his narration.

However, Werfel was not above fictionalization to fill in details or romanticize her story. He embellished the anti-religious feeling of the prosecutor, Vital Dutour (who, according to one source, altered Bernadette's answers to his questions to make her sound more visionary[3]), and transformed the relationship between Bernadette and Antoine Nicolau from one of friendship to one of unrequited love on Nicolau's part;[4] when she leaves Lourdes to become a nun, he vows never to wed.

Werfel's work also features a highly dramatic and fictionalized death scene. In the book, Bernadette cries out in a loud, strong voice, "J'aime (I love)" followed by a whispered "Now and in the hour..." before her voice fails; the point of view characters are a) Sister Marie Thérèse Vauzous, Bernadette's former elementary school teacher, who, by the power of Bernadette's cry of love and transfigured expression, is converted from skepticism to belief that Bernadette's Lady is present in the room and b) Father Marie Dominique Peyramale, who is revitalized physically and spiritually by Bernadette's death.[5]

In real life, however, Bernadette was in torment during the last day of her life, asking the other nuns to pray for her soul, and her last words—said twice—were "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner." Following this, according to Sister Nathalie Portat, she made the sign of the cross, drank a few drops of water and died.[6]

Also, while a nun by the name of Marie Thérèse Vauzous was in charge of the novices at the monastery of Nevers where Bernadette was cloistered, she was neither the daughter of a general nor Bernadette's former schoolteacher. Bernadette first met her at Nevers. And the historic Dean Marie Dominique Peyramale had been dead for about a year and a half by the time that Bernadette herself perished on 16 April 1879.[7]

However, in the preface, Werfel states that readers will justifiably ask "What is true and what is invented?" Werfel answers: "All the memorable happenings that constitute the substance of this book took place in the world of reality. Since their beginning dates back no longer than eighty years [N.B. at the time Werfel wrote the book], there beats upon them the bright light of modern history and their truth has been confirmed by friend and foe and by cool observers through faithful testimonies. My story makes no changes in this body of truth. I exercised my right of creative freedom only where the work, as a work of art, demanded certain chronological condensations or where there was need of striking the spark of life from the hardened substance." [8] He declares: "The Song of Bernadette is a novel but not a fictive work." [9]

It seems to have been inspired in part by Émile Zola's Lourdes (1884), a blistering denunciation of the industry that sprang up in Lourdes around the allegedly miraculous spring. One of Werfel's characters, Hyacinthe de Lafite, a member of the freethinkers' club that hangs around the town cafe, is not only fictional but a thinly disguised portrayal of Zola himself, re-imagined as a failed journalist/author who smugly casts Bernadette's experience in terms of the pagan history of the area: "The shepherd girl out of the antique world who, in the year 1858, sees the guardian nymph of the spring and redeems her from two thousand years of boredom[.]" By the end of the book, Lafite, the lady's "proudest foe", believing himself to be dying of cancer, is "lying on his knees" before the image of Bernadette's lady in the grotto, and crying out, "Bernadette Soubirous, pray for me!"[10]

Werfel goes into great detail about the cures at the Lourdes Spring, and has Dr. Dozous, the town physician, show Hyacinthe through the wards of the hospital, particularly a dormitory of women with a particularly virulent form of Lupus vulgaris in which the face rots and falls off. Werfel provides medical details and claims that some such women have been completely cured after washing in water from the spring, and reports that many more healings take place during the Blessing of the Eucharist ceremony which is held daily at the grotto.

Werfel's description of the veiled lupus sufferers is very similar to that of Zola's description of Elise Rouquet, whose nose and mouth are being eaten away by lupus, on pages 13-14 of Lourdes. Rouquet is also the Zola character who bathes her face in water from the Lourdes spring; one sore on her face improves, but the doctors are unable to decide, throughout the book, whether she actually had lupus or some other illness that responds well to washing or if the partial cure is psychosomatic. No such indecision plagues Dr. Douzous or his fellow physicians; in Chapter 46 of The Song of Bernadette, "The Hell of the Flesh," he implausibly informs the fictional Lafite that one of the lupus patients bathed her face in water from the spring and that she "didn't realize at first that she had a nose and mouth again."

Copyright[edit]

The Song of Bernadette has been in the public domain in the European Union since 1 January 2016.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Scheer, Monique (2012). "Catholic Piety in the Early Cold War Years;or, How the Virgin Mary Protected the West from Communism". In Vowinckel, Annette Vowinckel; Payk, Marcus M.; Lindenberger, Thomas. Cold War Cultures: Perspectives on Eastern and Western European Societies. New York: Berghahn. p. 147. ISBN 9780857452436. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Franz Werfel, "A Personal Preface" to The Song of Bernadette, The Viking Press, New York, 1942.
  3. ^ Lourdes: geology of the grotto of Massabielle, apparitions of Our Lady, St Bernadette
  4. ^ Biography Online: The Song of Bernadette
  5. ^ The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel, p. 564-566
  6. ^ Biography Online: Bernadette Soubirous
  7. ^ Understanding Franz Werfel by Hans Wagener, p. 150
  8. ^ The Song of Bernadette, Ignatius Press; Rep Tra edition (October 1, 2006), pages xiv-xv. ISBN 978-1586171711
  9. ^ The Song of Bernadette, Ignatius Press; Rep Tra edition (October 1, 2006), page xiv. ISBN 978-1586171711
  10. ^ The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel, p. 554

External links[edit]

  • Bernadette of Lourdes Author John Martin's [who abridged Franz Werfel's classic The Song of Bernadette] website

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