Metropolis (novel)

Metropolis is a 1925 science fiction novel by the German writer Thea von Harbou. The novel was the basis for and written in tandem with Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis.

Harbou Metropolis 1926.png
First edition cover
AuthorThea von Harbou
PublisherIllustriertes Blatt
August Scherl
Publication date
Published in English


The story is set in a technologically-advanced city, which is sustained by the existence of an exploited class of labourers who live underground, far away from the gleaming surface world. Freder, the son of Joh Fredersen, one of the city's founders, falls in love with Maria, a girl from the underground. The two classes begin to clash for lack of a unifying force.


The novel was serialised in the magazine Illustriertes Blatt in 1925, accompanied by screenshots from the upcoming film adaptation.[1] It was published in book form in 1926 by August Scherl.[2] An English translation was published in 1927.[3]


Michael Joseph of The Bookman wrote about the novel: "It is a remarkable piece of work, skilfully reproducing the atmosphere one has come to associate with the most ambitious German film productions. Suggestive in many respects of the dramatic work of Karel Capek and of the earlier fantastic romances of H. G. Wells, in treatment it is an interesting example of expressionist literature. [...] Metropolis is one of the most powerful novels I have read and one which may capture a large public both in America and England if it does not prove too bewildering to the plain reader."[4]

Film adaptationEdit

The book was written with the intention of being adapted for film by Harbou's husband, the director Fritz Lang. Harbou collaborated with Lang on the script for the film, also titled Metropolis. Shooting began before the novel was published. The film omits certain parts of the book, especially references to the occult (of which a small hint exists in the film), as well as the moral motivations given for certain actions of the main characters.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Minden, Michael; Bachmann, Holger (2002). Fritz Lang's Metropolis: Cinematic Visions of Technology and Fear. Columbia, South Carolina: Camden House Publishing. p. 59. ISBN 1-57113-146-9.
  2. ^ Metropolis : Roman. WorldCat. OCLC 22402104.
  3. ^ Metropolis. WorldCat. OCLC 7318111.
  4. ^ Joseph, Michael (April 1927). "The Seven Seas". The Bookman. p. 227. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)