Paul Michael Lützeler
IFK_Gast des Direktors

Duration of fellowship
01. May 2021 bis 30. June 2021

Paul Michael Lützeler


Hermann Broch and Religion: The Dialogics of Jewish and Christian Thinking


Aspects of religion play a major role in Hermann Broch’s literary, philosophical, political, and mass-psychological writings. In his very first novel, The Sleepwalkers trilogy, one discovers references to Mathias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece as an antithetical art-historical intertext, and in the concluding essay, The Disintegration of Values, the author discusses the relationship of two of the Christian denominations (Catholicism and Protestantism) to Judaism in order to point out the decline of religious beliefs in Europe. This radical change that Broch is witnessing in the early twentieth century is also the topic of two other novels: The Spell, thematizing National Socialist new paganism, and The Death of Virgil, with its parallel between the contemporary world and the religious crisis in the time of Cesar Augustus. Broch’s reflections on human rights refer back to Genesis with the idea of the human being created in God’s image. This becomes obvious in two of his political essays, The League of Nation Resolution and Theory of Mass Aberration. Broch’s fascination with religious developments goes back his university studies and his early literary and essayistic publications in Vienna between 1912 and 1928. The topic of my research at the IFK in Vienna will be this phase of his growing interest in Christianity and its crisis.


Paul Michael Lützeler is Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Max Kade Center for Contemporary German Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He was Vice President of the IVG for five years; for twenty years has been President of the International Research Circle Hermann Broch; and is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the German Studies yearbook Gegenwartsiteratur for two decades. His research areas include the literary discourse on Europe; exile literature, with an emphasis on Hermann Broch; and contemporary German literature.


Monografien/Monographs: Hermann Broch. Eine Biographie, Frankfurt/M. 1985 (übersetzt ins Englische, Spanische und Japanische; auch als E-Book); Die Schriftsteller und Europa. Von der Romantik bis zur Gegenwart, München 1992; Bürgerkrieg global. Menschenrechtsethos und deutschsprachiger Gegenwartsroman, München 2009; Editionen/Editions: Hermann Broch, Kommentierte Werkausgabe, 17 Bände, Frankfurt/M. 1974–1981 (auch als E-Book); Hoffnung Europa. Deutsche Essays von Novalis bis Enzensberger, Frankfurt/M. 1994; gem. mit Jennifer M.Kapczyinski, Die Ethik der Literatur. Deutsche Autoren der Gegenwart, Göttingen 2011.

18:15 - 20:00
  • Lecture
  • Lecture Series
Paul Michael Lützeler

Zwischen 1946 und 1949 tauschten Broch und Arendt Essays aus, die inspiriert worden waren durch die UNO-Charta und die „Universal Declaration of Human Rights“. Ihre Kritik wies in entgegengesetzte Richtungen: Broch setzte auf Internationalisierung und Einklagbarkeit, Arendt dagegen wies die Universalisierung zurück und erkannte nur Rechte an, die in Verfassungen von Nationalstaaten garantiert wurden.