Pseudonym: J. L. Wetcheek. Nationality: German; lived in exile in France, 1933-40, and the United States beginning in 1940. Born: Munich, 7 July 1884. Education: Studied philosophy, literature, and language at Berlin University; Munich University, Ph.D. in literature 1907. Military Service: Served briefly in the German Army during World War I (discharged for medical reasons). Family: Married Marta Loffler in 1912; one daughter (deceased). Career: Drama critic, Die Schaubühne, 1908-11; full-time writer. Died: 21 December 1958.
Gesammelte Werke [Collected Works]. 1933-54.
Gesammelte Werke in Einzelausgaben. 1959.
Der tönerne Gott: Roman [The God of Clay]. 1910.
Thomas Wendt: Ein dramatischer Roman. 1920.
Die hässliche Herzogin Margarete Maultasch: Roman. 1923; as The Ugly Duchess, 1927.
Jud Süss: Roman. 1925; as Power, 1926; as Jew Suess, 1926.
Wartesaal-Trilogie (Waiting Room Trilogy):
Erfolg: Drei Jahre Geschichte einer Provinz (2 vols.).1930; as Success: Three Years History of a Province, 1930.
Die Geschwister Oppermann. 1933; as The Oppermanns, 1933.
Exil: Roman. 1940; as Paris Gazette, 1940.
Der jüdische Krieg (trilogy). 1932; as Josephus, 1932.
Die Söhne: Roman. 1935; as The Jew of Rome, 1935.
Der Tag wird kommen. 1945; as Josephus and the Emperor, 1942; as The Day Will Come, 1942.
Der falsche Nero: Roman. 1936; as The Pretender, 1937.
Die Brüder Lautensack. 1944; as Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, 1943; as The Lautensack Brothers, 1944.
Simone: Roman. 1944; as Simone, 1944.
Waffen für Amerika [Arms for America]. 1947; as Die Füchse im Weinberg [Foxes in the Vineyard] (2 volumes), 1948; as Proud Destiny, 1947.
Goya oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis. 1951; as This Is the Hour, 1951.
Narrenweisheit, oder Tod und Verklärung des Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 1952; as Tis Folly to Be Wise; or, Death and Transfiguration of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1953.
Die Jüdin von Toledo: Roman. 1955; as Spanische Ballade, 1955; as Raquel, the Jewess of Toledo, 1956.
Jefta und seine Tochter: Roman. 1957; as Jefta and His Daughter, 1958.
Das Haus der Desdemona, oder Grösse und Grenzen historischer Dichtung (unfinished), edited by Fritz Zschech. 1961; as The House of Desdemona; or, The Laurels and Limitations of Historical Fiction, 1963.
Die Einsamen: Zwei Skizzen. 1903.
Kleine Dramen: Joel; König Saul; Das Weib des Urias; Der arme Heinrich; Donna Bianca; Die Braut von Korinth (2 vols.). 1905-06.
Der Fetisch: Schauspiel. 1907.
Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott: Volksstück, adaptation of a work by Arthur Müller. 1911.
Julia Farnese: Ein Trauerspiel in drei Akten. 1915.
Pierrots Herrentraum: Eine Pantomine in fünf Bildern, music by A. Hartmann-Trepka. 1916.
Vasantasema: Ein Schauspiel in drei Akten: Nach dem Indischen des Königs Sudraka. 1916.
Der König und die Tanzerin: Ein Spiel in vier Akten: Nach dem Indischen des Kalidasa. 1917.
Friede: Ein burleskes Spiel: Nach den "Acharneern" und der "Eirene" des Aristophanes. 1918.
Appius und Virginia: Trauerspiel. 1918.
Jd Süss: Schauspiel. 1918.
Die Kriegsgefangenen: Ein Schauspiel in fünf Akten [ThePrisoners of War]. 1919.
Der Amerikaner oder die entzauberte Stadt: Eine melancholische Komödie. 1921.
Der Frauenverkäufer: Ein Spiel in drei Akten nach Calderon. 1923.
Der holländische Kaufmann: Schauspiel. 1923.
Hill: Komödie in vier Akten 1925; as Wird Hill amnestiert? 1927.
Two Anglo-Saxon Plays: Oil Islands; Warren Hastings. 1928.
Three Plays: Prisoners of War; 1918; The Dutch Merchant. 1934.
Wahn oder der Teufel in Boston: Ein Stück in drei Akten, edited by E. Gottlieb and F. Guggenheim. 1948.
Die Witwe Capet: Ein Stück in Drei Akten. 1956; as The Widow Capet, 1956.
Die Gesichte der Simone Marcard, with Bertolt Brecht. 1957; as The Visions of Simone Marchard, 1965.
PEP: J. L. Wetcheeks amerikanisches Liederbuch (as J. L.Wetcheek). 1928; as PEP: J. L. Wetcheek's American Songbook, 1929.
Marianne in Indien und sieben andere Erzählungen. 1934; asMarianne in India, 1935; as Little Tales, 1935.
Venedig (Texas) und vierzehn andere Erzählungen. 1946.
Odysseus und die Schweine und zwölf andere Erzählungen. 1950; as Odysseus and the Swine, and Other Stories, 1949.
Heinrich Heines Fragment: "Der Rabbi von Bacharach": Eine kritische Studie (dissertation). 1907.
Die Aufgabe des Judentums, with Arnold Zweig. 1933.
Moskau 1937: Ein Reisebericht für meine Freunde. 1937; as Moscow 1937: A Visit Described for My Friends, 1937.
Unholdes Frankreich: Meine Erlebnisse unter der Regierung Petain. 1942; as Der Teufel in Frankreich ; as The Devil in France, 1941.
Centum Opuscula: Eine Auswahl (essays). 1956.
Translator, Die Perser, by Aeschylus. 1915.*
Jud Süss, 1934; Die Geschwister Oppermann (television), 1986.
A Bibliography of Lion Feuchtwanger's Major Works in German (dissertation) by Gertrude Goetz, University of Southern California, 1971; A Bibliography of Lion Feuchtwanger's Works in English Translation (dissertation) by Herta Maria Klopp Keilbach, University of Southern California, 1973; "Bibliographie zu Lion Feuchtwanger" by Wolfgang Müller-Funk, in Text + Kritik, 79/80, 1983, pp. 133-45.
Feuchtwanger Memorial Library in Doheny Memorial Library, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Lion Feuchtwanger: The Man, His Ideas, His Work, edited by John M. Spalek, 1972; Insight and Action: The Life and Work of Lion Feuchtwanger, 1975, and "Lion Feuchtwanger: The Hazards of Exile," in Exile: The Writer's Experience, edited by John M. Spalek and Robert F. Bell, 1982, both by Lothar Kahn; "An Ancient and Modern Identity Crisis: Lion Feuchtwanger's 'Josephus' Trilogy" by Marc L. Raphael, in Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, 21, 1972, pp. 409-14; "Double, Double, Toil and Trouble: Kritisches zu Lion Feuchtwangers Roman Die Bruder Lautensack " by Sigrid Schneider, in MLN, 95, 1980, pp. 641-54; Lion Feuchtwanger's Erfolg, a "Grossstadt" Novel by Judith Wessler, 1989; "In Buddha's Footsteps: Feuchtwanger's Jud Süss, Walther Rathenau, and the Path to the Soul" by William Small, in German Studies Review, 12(3), October 1989, pp. 469-85; "The Case of the Well-Crafted Novel: Lion Feuchtwanger's 'Goya"' by Jost Hermand, translated by James Steakley, in High and Low Cultures: German Attempts at Mediation, edited by Hermand and Reinhold Grimm, 1994; "Warren Hastings in the Drama of Lion Feuchtwanger and Bertolt Brecht: Contexts and Connections" by T. H. Bowyer, in Comparative Drama, 31(3), Fall 1997, pp. 394-413; "Mapping the Other: Lion Feuchtwanger's Topographies of the Orient" by Paul Levesque, in The German Quarterly, 71(2), Spring 1998, pp. 145-65; God and Judaism in the Lives and Works of Beer-Hofmann and Feuchtwanger 1998; Lion Feuchtwanger: A Bibliographic Handbook (vol. 2) by Sandra H. Hawrylchak and John M. Spalek, 1998.* * *
The early work of Munich-born Lion Feuchtwanger, son of a well-to-do Jewish margarine manufacturer, deals with the contemplative wisdom of the Eastern versus the Western (Nietzschean) philosophy of action. Prime examples for this theme are his drama Warren Hastings (1916), which was later reworked, together with Bertolt Brecht , into Kalkutta, 4. Mai (1927), and his drama about the German November Revolution of 1918, Thomas Wendt (1920). The theme of contemplation versus action, materialism versus spirituality, was initially continued in Feuchtwanger's most important works, his historical novels.
For Feuchtwanger the historical novel, which for him includes works that deal with the recent past or with problems of the present, should not merely depict life and events of the past, but rather it should deal with problems and issues of the present in historical garb. Through his historical novels he wants to gain insights from history for the present and the future. Historical facts are a mere means for him to gain distance from the present, thus gaining a better perspective. His almost Hegelian underlying philosophy is that the course of history is marked by progress of humanity toward a society governed by reason, even if here and there reason suffers a temporary defeat and the development seems to be going backward a step or two.
Adhering to this theory, Feuchtwanger wrote The Ugly Duchess (1923), in which the fourteenth-century duchess Margarethe of Tyrol tries in vain to cope with her physical ugliness by shrewdly reigning her country. In his perhaps biggest international success, Power (1925), the eighteenth-century "Court Jew" Süss-Oppenheimer undergoes an inner development from a life of frantic activity to an attitude of contemplation and acceptance of his fate.
As a witness of power politics of the Weimar Republic and the rise of National Socialism, Feuchtwanger felt impelled to deal with the politics of his own times. He earned the Nazis' hate by publishing Success: Three Years History of a Province (1930), a novel about the reactionary politics in Bavaria from 1921 to 1924 and Hitler's failed putsch of 1923. The next novel of what he later referred to as his Waiting Room Trilogy was The Oppermanns (1933). The novel deals with the persecution of Jews shortly before and after the Nazis' accession to power. In the third volume, Paris Gazette (1940), he deals with the fate of the German exiles in France. As a whole, the Waiting Room Trilogy may be considered Feuchtwanger's contribution to the German intellectuals' fight against Hitler. Other novels, such as the historical satire The Pretender (1936), Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (The Lautensack Brothers, 1943), and a novel about French resistance and collaboration, Simone (1944), were less successful in dealing with the Third Reich.
In 1936, during his exile in France—he had left Germany in 1933—Feuchtwanger visited the Soviet Union and published a disturbing defense of the Soviet system in his report Moscow 1937: A Visit Described for My Friends. In 1940 he had experienced internment in France, as he reports in detail in The Devil in France (1942).
The progress of reason in history is the theme of his novels dealing with the time before and after the French Revolution: Proud Destiny (1947) is a novel about the writer, businessman, and politician Beaumarchais and Benjamin Franklin, the American envoy in Paris. Since in October 1940 Feuchtwanger had come to America, ultimately settling in Pacific Palisades, California, the book may be considered an homage to the United States. This Is the Hour (1951) is about the development of Spanish artist Francisco de Goya's career, from his early work as a conventional court painter to the political responsibility he later demonstrated in his social-critical Caprichos. In Tis Folly to Be Wise; or, Death and Transfiguration of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1952) Feuchtwanger writes about the last weeks of the French philosopher's life and the effect of his ideals on the French as well as on the American Revolution.
Throughout his career Feuchtwanger was drawn to the theme of Jewishness. In his Josephus Trilogy (Josephus, 1932; The Jew of Rome, 1935; and Josephus and the Emperor, or The Day Will Come, 1942) he deals with the theme of nationalism versus cosmopolitanism by describing the development of Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century A.D. Toward the end of his life he took up the theme of Jewishness by writing about the beautiful Raquel, the Jewess of Toledo (1955), who for seven years was able to prevent Alfonso VIII of Castile from going to war against the Moors. In Jefta and His Daughter (1957) he wrote about a character from the Old Testament who kept his promise to God and sacrificed his own daughter.
Feuchtwanger explicitly dealt with the Holocaust only in The Oppermanns. But in dealing with the fate of the Jews in history and the development of National Socialism in Germany, he made an important contribution to our understanding of this dark period of German history.
See the essay on The Oppermanns.
Lion Feuchtwanger (1884-1958), a distinguished member of the post-World War I German literary scene, lived and wrote in political exile for the last quarter-century of his life. His masterwork, Success, is one of the great novels of the 20th century.
Lion Feuchtwanger was born on July 7, 1884, in Munich, Germany, the son of a wealthy Jewish industrialist. At Berlin and Munich universities he studied philosophy, literature, and ancient and modern languages and also developed a working interest in theater; in fact, while still a student he composed three short Old Testament plays—Joel, King Saul, and Uriah's Wife (1905-1906). After graduation he became a drama critic for Die Schaubühne (The Stage) from 1908 to 1911. In 1912 he married Martha Loffler.
Feuchtwanger was an inveterate traveller, and in 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I, he was in Tunisia (which was then French) and was arrested as an enemy alien and imprisoned. He escaped after a short internment, returned to Germany, and served in the army. After his discharge he wrote several anti-war plays (one, entitled Peace, was modeled on an Aristophanes anti-war play), but wartime patriotic fervor led to their suppression. Back in Berlin he began graduate work in literature and received a Ph.D. in 1918; his thesis subject was the great 19th-century German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine.
Feuchtwanger's own early poetry reflected his socialist and pacifist views, and in 1918 he founded a literary newspaper, Der Spiegel (The Mirror), to promote "revolutionary artistic tendencies." His editorship led to the discovery of the experimental radical playwright Bertolt Brecht, whose work Feuchtwanger enthusiastically promoted; they later collaborated on several plays, including Das Leben Eduard des zweiten von England (1928), an adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's Edward II.
Feuchtwanger was an energetic man and a prolific writer: he translated literary classics from the Spanish, the English, and the ancient Greek and worked as an editor and a reviewer, yet still found time for his own plays, novels, and poems. He finished his first novel, Jew Süss (Power), in 1921 but was unable to find a publisher for it until 1925, when it became an international best-seller. Set in the 18th century, it deals with an identity crisis: in order to gain social power, the novel's protagonist renounces his Jewish heritage and becomes assimilated into the mainstream of German culture. In 1928, although he had not yet visited the United States, Feuchtwanger, under the pseudonym J. L. Wetcheek (a literal translation of "Feuchtwanger"), wrote Pep, a book of satirical poems about America.
The Novel Success
Feuchtwanger's reputation was initially as a playwright and later as a historical novelist, but his masterpiece, Erfolg (1930; Success), was a contemporary roman à clef, a novel of a gloriously liberal but doomed Weimar Republic moving inexorably toward fascism. Published just three years before Hitler's rise to power, the novel is not only prophetic of Germany's totalitarianism, but uncanny in its multi-level depiction of the corruptive process.
The narrative scheme of Success was almost certainly influenced by movie techniques. As in John Dos Passos' USA trilogy and Aldous Huxley's Point Counter Point, the main plot line, where it exists at all, is subordinated to multiple parallel sub-plots, so that there is, as in film, frequent "cross-cutting." Dozens of characters are successfully manipulated, and so skillfully that when a character reappears after an absence of 40 or 50 pages he is almost immediately recalled by the reader.
The widely diffuse central story line concerns the futile efforts of a young woman, Johanna Krain, to free her lover, Krüger, from prison. As an art museum curator he has grievously offended the conservative Bavarian folk by exhibiting two unconventional paintings: one is an unusual treatment of "Joseph and His Brothers," and the other is a female nude. With the first painting Feuchtwanger hit upon a sly symbol; the Munich populace is too unimaginative to see the connection between themselves and Joseph's businesslike, short-memoried brothers, but they are nevertheless troubled by the painting. Much less subtle is the second painting, which leads to Krüger's trial for adultery with the painting's nude subject (of which he is actually innocent) and breach of public morality; unfortunately for Krüger, too many marginal matters obtrude, and he is found guilty and languishes in prison for several dispiriting years before dying there. Krüger is, even before Hitler's advent, a victim of Hitlerism, of provincial mentality and rigged justice.
Hitler is represented in the novel as a character named Rupert Kutzner, leader of a lunatic-fringe right-wing group whose power grows and moves centerward as ministers and industrialists find the group useful. Other important replications are Kaspar Pröckl (Bertolt Brecht), Jacques Tüverlin (Feuchtwanger himself), and Hessreiter (either Krupp or I. G. Farben). Quite probably all of the characters have real-life models, just as the depicted events mirror actual developments in the decline of German democracy. But it's not the historical literalness that accounts for the novel's greatness; rather, it's the wealth and depth of Feuchtwanger's moral imagination. Dotting the book's landscapes are startling ironies and haunting tableaux: the testimony that sinks the decent, civilized Krüger comes from an arrant perjurer, the hooligan chauffeur Ratzenberger, who is not so incidentally a member of Kutzner's party; the liberal defense attorney, Geyer, is mugged by his own cadging, nihilistic son, Erich; the folksy Chaplinesque comic, Balthasar Hierl, secretly fears and detests his adoring public; the once-liberal minister Klenk, swept to the right by the political winds, finds himself strangely and deeply moved by the left-revolutionary film "Orlov" (actually Eisenstein's masterpiece, "Potemkin"); the great painter Landholzer has slyly found "asylum" in a mental institution, which he finds more congenial than the outside world.
Success's approximately 800 pages constitute a conspectus of Germany in the 1920s, brilliantly dissecting the private and public tensions that were building to a national crisis and, ultimately, to a European calamity. Few novels have been as ambitious and fewer still as fulfilling. English language readers are the beneficiaries of an exemplary translation by Willa and Edwin Muir (1930).
Exile in the United States
In 1932 and 1933 Feuchtwanger travelled in America and began writing a trilogy that reached back into Roman antiquity, focusing on the complex figure of Josephus, the Roman-Jewish soldier-historian. Upon his return to Germany Feuchtwanger's Berlin house and his fortune were confiscated by the Nazi government. He fled to France, where he lived and wrote until French capitulation in 1940 led to his confinement in a concentration camp; that incarceration and his escape in female disguise are described in Der Teufel in Frankreich (1941; The Devil in France). Still under a German death sentence for his writings and his avowed politics, Feuchtwanger fled with his wife to Spain, then to Portugal, and in late 1940 reached the United States, which became his permanent home.
Feuchtwanger's political militancy and creative powers were not at all blunted by exile. In addition to his Josephus trilogy, he wrote Die Geschwister Oppenheim (1933; The Oppermanns, 1934), a powerful novel of a wealthy Jewish family cheated of their department store through the connivance of a competitor and the government; an allegorical novel followed, Der Falsche Nero (1936; The Pretender), in which a lowly potter (read "Hitler") is elevated by a capitalist to a position of pseudo emperor, but is finally overthrown and crucified along with his supporters.
After World War II's end, Feuchtwanger reverted to his first fictional love, the historical novel: Die Füchse Im Weinberg (1947; Proud Destiny) documents Benjamin Franklin's role in forging an alliance between France and the American insurrectionists during the revolutionary struggle against England. Goya (1951; This Is the Hour) portrays the tempestuous personality of the great Spanish painter against the background of his times. Spanische Ballade (1955; Raquel) is an intriguing romance of medieval Spain, exploring the interactions of its three central types—the businessman, the adventurer, and the historian.
Feuchtwanger died in Los Angeles, California, on December 21, 1958.
Two English-language studies of Feuchtwanger are Lothar Kahn's Insight and Action (1975) and John M. Spalek's Lion Feuchtwanger: the man, his ideas, his work (1972). Two important works in German are Günther Horst Gottschalk's Die "Verkleidungstrachnik" Lion Feuchtwanger in Waffen für Amerika (1965) and a full-length critical study of Success Egon Bruckener's Lion Feuchtwanger's Roman "Erfolg" (1978). □
FEUCHTWANGER, LION (1884–1958), German historical novelist. Feuchtwanger was born into a Bavarian-Jewish family. Coming from the Jewish community of Fuerth the Feuchtwangers settled in Munich in the mid-1840s, established a successful private bank and a factory for margarine, and were very active in the Orthodox Synagogenverein Ohel Jakob. Lion Feuchtwanger studied philosophy at Berlin and Munich; in 1907 he received his doctorate from the University of Munich for a thesis on Heine's Rabbi of Bacherach. As a young man he was mainly interested in drama. He wrote about a dozen plays, three of them in collaboration with Brecht. It was after World War i that Feuchtwanger's name first became known. His greatest success came with Jud Suess (1925; English edition Jew Suess, 1926; U.S. edition Power, 1927), a novel about Joseph Suess *Oppenheimer, the 18th-century court Jew, which he had originally written as a play. In 1939 this world best seller, which had already been made into a motion picture in Britain, was used by the Nazis as the basis for a viciously antisemitic film. Feuchtwanger's other big success of the 1920s was Die haessliche Herzogin Margarete Maultasch (1923; The Ugly Duchess, 1927), a psychological study of an Austrian historical figure. Erfolg (1930; Success, 1930) daringly exposed the moral corruption of postwar Germany. It was during this period that he began writing his *Josephus trilogy – Der juedische Krieg (1932; Josephus, 1932), Die Soehne (1935; The Jew of Rome, 1936), and Der Tag wird kommen (1941; The Day Will Come, 1942). Lion Feuchtwanger's brother Ludwig was a well-known figure in the cultural life of the Weimar Republic. Until 1933 he was the editor of the Duncker & Humblot publishing house in Munich.
Feuchtwanger spent the winter of 1932/33 on a lecture tour of the U.S. and was there when Hitler came to power. He never returned to Germany, but settled in the south of France. After the French collapse in June 1940, the Vichy regime put him into a concentration camp. With the help of American friends he managed to escape over the Pyrenees and, as a result of the intervention of President Roosevelt, was able to enter the U.S., where he spent the rest of his life. The novel Die Geschwister Oppenheim (1933; The Oppermanns, 1934) deals with the fate of a German-Jewish family in the early days of Nazi rule. A trip to the U.S.S.R. produced Moskau 1937, which included an historic interview with Stalin. The years of exile in France inspired several novels, including Simone (1944; Eng. tr., 1944), Exil (1939; Paris Gazette, 1940), and Unholdes Frank-reich (1942; The Devil in France, 1941). When he was living in Pacific Palisades, California, Feuchtwanger wrote more best sellers, including Waffen fuer America (2 vols, 1947–48; Proud Destiny, 1947), the story of Benjamin Franklin's activities in France; Goya (1951; This Is the Hour, 1952); Narrenweisheit, oder Tod und Verklaerung des Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1952; 'tis Folly to be Wise… 1953); Spanische Ballade (1955, also published 1955 under the title Die Juedin von Toledo; Raquel the Jewess of Toledo, 1956), and Jefta und seine Tochter (1957; Jephta and his Daughter, 1958). Many of these books were translated into more than 30 languages. Feuchtwanger's play Wahn, oder der Teufel in Boston (1946) is a penetrating study of Cotton Mather and his times. The 30,000-volume Feuchtwanger Memorial Library, bequeathed to the University of Southern California, was the novelist's third collection; previous libraries were lost in Nazi Germany and occupied France. After World War ii, Feuchtwanger received awards and honors from both West and East Germany.
Lion Feuchtwanger zum 70. Geburtstag (1954), contains bibliography; ndb, 5 (1957), 109–10; Zohn, in: Jewish Quarterly (Winter 1958/59), 3–4; Lion Feuchtwanger zum Gedenken (1959); Yuill, in: German Men of Letters, 3 (1964), 179–206. add. bibliography: L. Kahn, Insight and Action. The Life and Work of Lion Feuchtwanger (1975); J. Pischel, Lion Feuchtwanger – Versuch über ein Leben (1984).
[Harry Zohn /
Heike Specht (2nd ed.)]