Literature and Religion by Hans Küng
Pascal, Gryphius, Lessing, Holderlin, Novalis

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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 Kafk'sque 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. ùHans 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 KafkaÆs 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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Published July 16, 1998 by Paragon House. 308 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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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.

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