Franz Werfel
 Hearken Unto the Voice
(or: Listen to the Voice
or: Jeremiah)

Original Title: Höret die Stimme!

The story of the struggle, love and suffering of the prophet Jeremiah. As a reader, I continuously got the impression that the author himself had really been there 2,600 years ago, that he was present in the soul of his main character in the novel.

Franz Werfel describes external and internal events precisely and vividly: Jeremiah acts as an advisor for various kings, as an educator of the crown princes, but … at crucial moments, all of them – including the people – fail to heed his warning voice.

The first three chapters form the framework of the present day – they are a little tedious to read – and then, from chapters 4 to 33, the book takes you back one step at a time to his earlier life, where the reader hopes and suffers with this fearless person who only ever wanted to help. N.B. In the more recent editions, the first three chapters have been omitted.

A powerfully eloquent, inspiring work for those who not only want excitement, but also want to learn from the strengths and mistakes of others, which, all too often, were or still are our own.


Almost all the murmurs received from above, which the prophet was allowed to announce to the kings, were unwanted messages and they were ignored. The powerful people of this world were then, as well as now, only guided by their own will (which they probably thought or think is good). In this sense, the statements made in the novel are as relevant now as they were then.

I was particularly impressed by the writer’s statement that Jeremiah had to struggle very hard not to mix together the message he received with his own when writing down the proclamations.


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