The God that Failed

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:
The God that Failed

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A free-floating “faith” longing for an object was, according to Thomas Mann in the chapter “On Faith” in his Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man (1918), the hallmark of the age at the end of World War I. Mann's analysis was describing the mythophilic German, but also applies equally well to the internationally minded socialists and communists who were emerging in Germany and other countries in opposition to the nationalists of Fascist and Nazi tendency. In both cases, the political faith was a surrogate for religious belief. Richard Crossman came up with the inspired title The God That Failed (1949) for his anthology of autobiographical essays by six writers who were initially attracted to and then turned away from communism. This chapter focuses on three writers who share with the contributors to Crossman's anthology and with other former Communists the understanding that socialism and communism constituted for many of its believers in the first half of the twentieth century a surrogate for lost faith. They are Roger Martin du Gard, Alfred Döblin, and Ignazio Silone.

Keywords: socialism; communism; lost faith; Germany; Roger Martin du Gard; Alfred Döblin; Ignazio Silone; religious belief; Richard Crossman; Thomas Mann

Chapter.  12468 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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