Religion and enlightenment, the twin themes of this volume, always exist in tension. The tensions, affinities, and conflicts between the two, as they play out in German literature from Goethe, Schiller and Kleist down to Kafka and Thomas Mann, are explored in this volume, with one section examining their interplay in the neglected Austrian Enlightenment. Thanks to the historical and textual criticism of the Bible, the ‘sea of faith’ began its withdrawal sooner in Germany than in England, and this collection traces its retreat, looking especially at Nietzsche’s militant opposition to Christianity and at the expression in some modernist writing of a distinctly post-Christian and even post-human outlook.
Ritchie Robertson is Taylor Professor of German at the University of Oxford. This book aims to make more widely available some 27 of his essays on the theme of Enlightenment and religion, in both Germany and Austria, which are otherwise widely scattered in journals published over the last twenty years.
‘A tour de force in the study of German-speaking cultures with a range and depth that takes readers from the Classical period in the eighteenth century to twentieth-century Modernism... Here we are confronted with, or rather treated to [...] erudition, insight and unerring logic.’ — Carol Tully, Times Literary Supplement23 January 2018
‘Any ambitious colleagues wishing to uncover the secret behind Robertson’s talent for producing the appropriate formulation are again referred to his introductory remarks, in which he recalls having learnt to use a typewriter whose roller would only turn in one direction, making it impossible to go back and emend what had been written. The present volume of essays suggests that there could be no better method of training future scholars than by providing them with similarly challenging, character-building implements.’ — Osman Durrani, Modern Language Review 113.2, April 2018, 433-35 (full text online)