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Great Expectations: Futurity in the Long Eighteenth Century


Edited By Mascha Hansen and Jürgen Klein

What did eighteenth-century men and women think about when they contemplated the future? What was hidden in the «dark bosom of futurity», as Richardson’s Pamela calls it? Do all types of literature that supply a critique of the present conjure up an idealized past or a vision of a better future? Predictions and prophecies – not only astrological but also political ones, utopian models, theological concepts like predestination, progress in the sciences, and, last but not least, life-after-death, both in the form of secular fame and the immortal soul, are among the topics addressed by the essays collected in this volume.


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“NOT IN UTOPIA, SUBTERRANEAN FIELDS, HEAVEN KNOWS WHERE”: OR, APOCALYPSE WHEN? Hermann Josef Real, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster Ich habe nie an die Möglichkeit gedacht, dass jemand nicht den Wunsch nach Auferstehung hege. Der futurologische Kongreß I In the beginning “when there was no such thing as Days, or Months, or Years, or even Time itself,”1 our first parents, Adam and Eve, knew no future, or, to be more precise, they had no need of the Future, or any Future whatever. In prelap- sarian paradise, life was as blissfully happy as it was timelessly atemporal and everlastingly infinite: “Das Paradies hatte Paradies sein können,” the philoso- pher Hans Blumenberg has noted, “weil dort kein Mangel an Zeit war [Paradise could be paradise because there was no lack of time in it].”2 World time and life time were still identical. Only when these no longer coincided and when Adam and Eve no longer were what they ought to have been were our first parents con- fronted with ‘an experience of otherness.’ It was only after their fall that the Fu- ture became an option and an event, possibly more of a threat than a promise. Indeed, it was after their having tasted “the fruit / Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste / Brought death into the world, and all our woe” that the Future be- gan to tug strongly at our first parents and all their offspring, with any escape routes blocked, too, as...

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