Literature and Religion: Pascal, Gryphius, Lessing, Holderlin, Novalis

Literature and Religion: Pascal, Gryphius, Lessing, Holderlin, Novalis

by Hans Kung, Walter Jens
     
 

The great visions of Gryphius, Lessing, Holderlin, and Novalis, visions of peace, freedom, and humanity, have not been refuted. They were simply not realized in the modem era and they point to a different future...the lofty intellectuality and morality of Pascal the Catholic as well as the radical Christianness of Kierkegaard the Protestant have to be taken in here

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Overview

The great visions of Gryphius, Lessing, Holderlin, and Novalis, visions of peace, freedom, and humanity, have not been refuted. They were simply not realized in the modem era and they point to a different future...the lofty intellectuality and morality of Pascal the Catholic as well as the radical Christianness of Kierkegaard the Protestant have to be taken in here just as much as the mystical depth of Dostoyevsky the Russian and the enigmatic darkness of Kafka the Jew. The eclipse of God, the subsequent twilight of the gods, the downfall of the modem pseudogods can be followed by a new morning in a paradigm of postmodernity (a name for what is as yet unknown). Yes, let us look forward. If I read the signs of the times rightly, toward the end of our century rebellion against the Kafkaesque world is everywhere afoot.... Literature and religion in one: a theme of hope for a new futurean era that can bring forth literature in which great theology and great aesthetics enter once again into an exemplary intimacy. —Hans Knng, from Literature and Religion Up until the seventeenth century, Western culture was essentially synonymous with Christian culture. Then, on the very border between the medieval and the modem worlds, this unity of authority and belief began to crumble. For the first time, an intellectual life developed that was independent of the church, and modem, rational man surged toward new models of the world, society, the church, and theology. In Literature and Religion, Hans Knng and Walter Jens survey the complex, vital, and contradictory search for faith over the past three hundred years through the key works of eight great writers. At the dawn of modernity, Blaise Pascal was the prototype of the new modern man, measuring religion against developments in science, technology, and industrialization. Andreas Gryphius records the forces of the German Reformation, while Gotthold Lessing embodies the Enlightenment. Romanticism is represented by works of Ho1derlin and Novalis, and the crisis of the nineteenth century by Kierkegaard and Dostoyevsky. Finally, Knng and Jens show the demise of the paradigm of modernity in the extreme distance between God and man in Kafka's The Castle. Hans Knng, the renowned theologian, and Walter Jens, a literary specialist, bring contemporary postmodern consciousness to bear on centuries of interwoven poetry and faith. Readers today will find answers to the ongoing dialogue on the possibilities and limits of faith in our fractured age.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Two distinguished German intellectuals--Jens, a rhetorician at the University of Tubingen, and Kung, a Catholic theologian and author of On Being a Christian --here show an enthusiastic dedication to their subject that readers, however, will find hard to share. These joint lectures on eight European writers are burdened by two difficulties. First, academic jargon and what may be a problem of translation yield prose that is often dense and occasionally incomprehensible (18th-century playwright and critic G. E. Lessing is described as an ``externally discontinuous person''). Second, the questions addressed are frequently arcane: ``Was Lessing following in art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann's footsteps?'' There are, indisputably, nuggets of wisdom in these pages, but only readers who can stay awake will find them. (Dec.)
Library Journal
This book is a rarity, a highly readable work by a theologian and a scholar, originally presented as a symposium at the University of Tubingen. Setting out to answer the question, ``What happened to religion in the modern era, and what happened to modernity because of religion?'' Jens and Kung turned to writers. Each writer is seen as representing his age and prophesying for the age to come. Especially valuable for a fresh perspective on ``the paradigm change that set in around the middle of the 17th century,'' the book also asserts that both religion and literature have ``an eminently humanizing and liberating function.''-- Kathleen Norris, Lemmon P.L., S.D.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781557782823
Publisher:
Paragon House Publishers
Publication date:
07/16/1998
Edition description:
1st American ed
Pages:
308
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.03(d)
Lexile:
1320L (what's this?)

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