Karl Emil Franzos (1848-1904), the son of a doctor, a liberal Jew, was born in Czortkow (now Chortkiv) and grew up in Czernowitz (now Chernivsty); both towns, until 1918 part of the Habsburg Empire. He studied law, but did not want to work as an advocate; a position of judge was barred to him, as a Jew, and he refused to convert in order to advance his career. He became a journalist and edited important literary magazines in Vienna and, after 1886, in Berlin. But it was as a writer of reportage, short stories and novels set in his homeland, the area of East Galicia and the Bukovina, that he became widely known during his lifetime. His portrayal of the people of this backward area is not at all folksy local colour, but is informed by his deep humanitarian concern for the oppressed and exploited classes and nationalities. For all his knowledge of local habits and customs which informs his novels, the main emphasis in his work is on the individual. 'Leib Weihnachtskuchen and his Child' (first published in 1896), is set in East Galicia, nowadays a province of the Ukraine. It portrays a poverty-stricken Jew whose religion is personal and deeply felt and causes the inevitable tragedy to unfold.
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Published September 11, 2011
Literature & Fiction, Religion & Spirituality.