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Religion and Identity in Germany Today

Doubters, Believers, Seekers in Literature and Film


Edited By Julian Ernest Preece, Frank Finlay and Sinéad Crowe

In German-speaking Europe, as in other parts of the western world, questions of religious identity have been discussed with sudden urgency since the attacks of ‘9/11’. Nowhere was this clearer than in the heated controversy over the building of a mosque in the city of Cologne, which is the subject of Michael Hofmann’s contribution to this volume. Turkish Germans have also found themselves defined by the religious background of their parents. For different reasons German Jews have faced pressure to reconnect with a religion that their forbears cast off sometimes more than a century ago. At the same time religious belief among the nominally Christian majority has been in retreat. These changes have generated poetry, drama, and fiction as well as a number of films by both well-known and emerging authors and filmmakers. Their works sometimes reflect but more often challenge debates taking place in politics and the media. The essays in this volume explore a range of genres which engage with religion in contemporary Germany and Austria. They show that literature and film express nuances of feeling and attitude that are eclipsed in other, more immediately influential discourses. Discussion of these works is thus essential for an understanding of the role of religion in forming identity in contemporary multicultural German-speaking societies. This volume contains eight chapters in English and six in German.


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JULIAN PREECE - Faking the Hadj? Richard Burton Slips between the Lines in Ilija Trojanow’s Der Weltensammler 211


JULIAN PREECE Faking the Hadj? Richard Burton Slips between the Lines in Ilija Trojanow’s Der Weltensammler More than forty years ago Fawn Brodie counted ten biographies in English of the British explorer, Orientalist extraordinaire, and possible Muslim convert, Sir Richard Francis Burton.1 There have since been numerous others, as well as films, television series and documentaries, and novels. After T.E. Lawrence (1888–1935) at the beginning of the twentieth century, Bruce Chatwin (1940– 89) was inspired by him. Just before Ilija Trojanow (1965– ) set off on his trail in India, Arabia, and East Africa to research his biographical novel Der Weltensammler (2006), Christopher Ondaatje reimagined the Indian part of Burton’s career, which also takes up the first part of Trojanow’s novel.2 Burton is known, perhaps curiously, more through accounts of his life writ- ten by others than by his own writings. He is a figure of contemporary myth whose significance can be presented and interpreted in numerous ways. Only a small number of his own books has stayed in print (either on paper or on the Web).3 For obvious reasons he has always been a British hero, his pres- ence in non-English speaking culture being comparatively slight. As in the English-speaking world, his scholarly erotica (such as The Kama Sutra and The Perfumed Garden) and pioneering translation of The Arabian Nights 1 Fawn Brodie, The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Francis Burton (London: Eland, 1986/2002), p. 2. First published (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1967), p. x. 2...

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