Literature & Religion: Pascal, Gryphius, Lessing, Holderlin, Novalis, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Kafka

By Walter Jens; Hans Küng et al. | Go to book overview

WALTER JENS
. . . And Look upon Peace

"Minds must everywhere communicate with one another. Wherever even one living breath stirs, they must unite with every element not deserving of expulsion, so that out of this union, out of this invisible Church Militant, may come forth the great child of the time, the day of all days, which the man of my soul (an apostle whom his current mimickers understand as little as they understand themselves) calls the future of the Lord." Thus runs the creed, dated 9 November 1795, of Friedrich Hölderlin, a writer who was one of the most self-willed of the many pious eccentrics in which Swabia has always been uniquely rich -- conventiclers, Adventists, speakers in tongues, and persons possessed by the Spirit.

Between his studies in the Tübingen Seminary and his stay in the house of master carpenter Ernst Zimmer (a few stones' throw from the seminary), Hölderlin met the church officials and gentlemen of the Consistory with horror and contempt. As a young man, he was dependent on them, much to his regret. At the same time, he was nevertheless a Christian who could match his superiors not only in spirituality but also in knowledge of the Bible and sovereign mastery of the text, especially the Pauline and Johannine writings.

The "enthusiastic seer" and "poet struck by Apollo" was in the first instance an expertly informed preacher and theologian, a homo religiosus. He dealt familiarly with the author of the Letters to the Corinthians (the "man of my soul") as with an equal. Hölderlin was capable of producing rich and varied ad-

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Literature & Religion: Pascal, Gryphius, Lessing, Holderlin, Novalis, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Kafka
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