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Mysticism as Modernity

Nationalism and the Irrational in Hermann Hesse, Robert Musil and Max Frisch


William Crooke

This work reconsiders the connections between mysticism, nationalism and modernity in twentieth-century German cultures. Disengaging mysticism from occultism, the author creates a new space for reconsidering mysticism’s links to larger structures of modernity already at play at the turn of the century. Rather than dismissing mysticism as a strain of anti-modern irrationalism with troubling links to radical politics such as Nazism, the author reconceptualizes modern mysticism as an unwittingly logical expression of the same compression of time and space created by the emergence of the newspaper, radio, railways and telegraph and reflected in the novels of Hermann Hesse, Robert Musil and Max Frisch.
Contents: Nations and the Logic of Irrationalism – Mysticism and Nation: Modernity and Time-Space Compression – Gustav Landauer and Alfred Rosenberg: Eckhartian Mysticism and the Un-created Self – Mysticism as National Depression: Hermann Hesse’s Demian – Living as One Reads: Print-Mysticism in Robert Musil’s Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften – Qualities Without a Man: the Predicament of Swiss Nationalism in Max Frisch’s Mein Name sei Gantenbein – Death and the Nation.