The Hunger for Myth

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 Hunger for Myth

Show Summary Details


The nineteenth century has rightfully been called historiography's “Golden Age.” During this period, history invaded every field of academic thought—philosophy, theology, law, and the natural sciences. The works of Thomas Macaulay and Theodor Mommsen enjoyed an unprecedented public success. By the beginning of the twentieth century, however, this euphoria was beginning to wane. In 1872, Friedrich Nietzsche struck a blow against academic history in his “Untimely Thoughts” on “the use and disadvantage of history for life.” If history holds no lessons to replace religious faith, where are we to turn? Nietzsche hinted at one direction in his comments on “monumental” history. Findings of positivistic biblical history persuaded many theologians at the turn of the century to concede some of the power of religion to myth. In nineteenth-century Germany, an entirely different meaning emerged, known by the Greco-Latin vocables as Mythus or Mythos, which appears to have a unique connection with conservative political thought—in particular, Italian fascism and German national socialism—and explicitly played on religious associations, offering itself as a substitute for lost faith.

Keywords: history; Friedrich Nietzsche; lost faith; fascism; socialism; myth; Germany; religion; religious associations

Chapter.  11841 words. 

Subjects: Literature

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.