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Navid Kermani


Edited By Helga Druxes, Karolin Machtans and Alexandar Mihailovic

Navid Kermani – author, journalist and academic – is one of the most prominent public intellectuals in Germany today. Kermani has been at the forefront of recent debates about Islam and its role in Germany’s political, social and cultural life. Instead of emphasizing the differences between ethnic affiliations and religious beliefs, Kermani questions the Western notion of a clear dividing line between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, highlighting instead their affinities. In addition to his political essays, Kermani’s travel journalism introduces western audiences to diverse Muslim societies in the world and his fiction provides accessible meditations on first love, contemporary music, death and friendship. This is the first volume of criticism in English dedicated to Kermani’s varied work. The book features an extensive interview with the author, a reproduction in German and English of Kermani’s famous 2014 Bundestag speech and a collection of critical essays on Kermani’s writing. The essays, by major scholars in the field, cover issues such as gender, religion, cosmopolitanism, mystical experiences, and the power of the liberal arts in a time of neoliberal distraction.
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Esther Schießer - Kermani’s Reception of Jean Paul: Reconsidering his Frankfurt Lectures Über den Zufall and his Novel Dein Name


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Kermani’s Reception of Jean Paul: Reconsidering his Frankfurt Lectures Über den Zufall and his Novel Dein Name1

Almost 250 years after Jean Paul’s birth, Navid Kermani chose him as his topic for the 2010 Frankfurt Lectures titled Über den Zufall. Jean Paul, Hölderlin und der Roman, den ich schreibe. Die Frankfurter Poetikvorlesungen [On Accidents: Jean Paul, Hölderlin, and the Novel I Am Writing. Frankfurt Lectures on Poetics]. But what is the connection between a contemporary German author like Navid Kermani and a Romantic satirist from the eighteenth century? Kermani begins his Frankfurt lectures with the question ‘Warum Jean Paul?’ (Why Jean Paul?).2 In a larger sense, how does Kermani engage the aesthetics of Jean Paul? To what extent does Kermani incorporate Jean Paul’s notions about the minute-by-minute awareness of mortality, as a stimulant for verbal creations, into his own narrative strategies?

Overall, academic researchers agree with Kermani’s views on the idiosyncrasies of Jean Paul’s style. In many key points, we can perceive congruent ideas and literary techniques. Hans-Georg Pott, for instance, draws our attention to aspects in Jean Paul that are brought out as crucial in our comparative analysis: on the one hand, there is the tension between finality and the infinite and the special fascination with liminal areas of ← 143 | 144 → human life, death, and birth.3 On the other hand, there is the turn toward the accidental and the insignificant while foregrounding the...

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