Theologians of the Profane

Theodore Ziolkowski

in Modes of Faith

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226983639
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226983660 | DOI:
Theologians of the Profane

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Skepticism did not come naturally to writers born into intensely religious families and often intended, like Philip Gosse, for religious careers. If we consider three representative English, French, and German novels—Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh, Roger Martin du Gard's Jean Barois, and Hermann Hesse's Demian—surprising parallels become evident despite significant differences of nationality, generation, and composition. None of the three men undertook their highly autobiographical novels until their maturity (in their thirties and forties), at a point in their lives when they were able to look back with critical detachment at their childhood and youth in deeply pious families during an era shaped by the spiritual tensions of the years following David Strauss's Life of Jesus, Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, and the other works that shook the foundations of conventional religious belief. These tensions provide the themes of their respective novels: The Way of All Flesh, a tension between church and reality; Jean Barois, between faith and reason; and Demian, between the worlds of good and evil.

Keywords: novels; spiritual tensions; faith; reason; good; evil; The Way of All Flesh; Jean Barois; Demian; religious belief

Chapter.  10474 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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