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Reviewed by:
  • Hermann Broch und Der Brenner ed. by Paul Michael Lützeler and Markus Ender
  • Vincent Kling
Paul Michael Lützeler and Markus Ender, eds., Hermann Broch und Der Brenner. Innsbruck: Studienverlag, 2020. 297 pp.

European scholarly publishers generally receive more ample subsidies than their American counterparts, enabling them to provide more specific studies than US houses dare attempt. Paul Michael Lützeler and Markus Ender's [End Page 149] Hermann Broch und Der Brenner, an apt example, records the proceedings of a conference from June 2019 at the University of Innsbruck. The topic is relevant to its venue in focusing on relations between Broch and the Innsbruck periodical Der Brenner, the archive of which is logically housed at the university in that city.

This volume may at first appear narrow in treating with fullness and clarity a topic based on a local affiliation, but it is far from provincial. After all, Innsbruck has played a more prominent role in Austrian belles lettres than the size of the city would suggest and continues to this day as a vibrant center of literary creativity and research.

More specifically, the essence of Broch's intellectual and literary life is its universal reach, obviating any suggestion of insularity. Hannah Arendt aptly called Broch a "Dichter wider Willen" for his rejection of aesthetics when not united with ethics, his refusal to discuss rights without corresponding responsibilities, and his prodigious efforts to unite history, psychology, philosophy, and political science into a single unified vision. In light of Broch's catholicity, a volume dedicated "only" to his relations with a specific journal ranges farther than its apparently limited topic might indicate.

Accordingly, Lützeler's introductory essay, "Hermann Brochs Der Tod des Vergil im Kontext von Europa- und Ethik-Diskurs" (9–24), establishes, in addition to his "Vorwort" (7–8), three broad contexts by touching on the tendency of fiction writers to work through problems of stabilizing collective identity and cultural memory with a view toward imagining—and thereby activating—a better future (9). The second part traces the expansion of Broch's ethical concepts through Theodor Haecker's concept of Virgil as an "anima naturaliter Christiana," allowing Broch to strengthen the link between Virgil and Dante and to explore contemporary topics of exile and persecution through that lens (13-16). The third part, "Tod, Ruhm und Unsterblichkeit," presents Broch's characteristic alignment of immortality with self-recognition: "Gott ist gleichsam die Totalerkenntnis, und menschlich-partielle Durchbrüche bedeuten für den erkennenden Menschen eine Annäherung an Gott und seine Ewigkeit" (19). Lützeler sets the direction for every other essay.

Co-editor Markus Ender provides a provocative study of "Die Rezeption Hermann Broch's im Makrokontext des Gesamtbriefwechsels Ludwig von Fickers" (25–41). Ficker's correspondence is never far from considering [End Page 150] Broch, whether it is addressed to "Die Herausgeber (Harald Binde und Ernst Schönwiese)," "Die Exilanten (Werner Kraft und Friedrich Torberg)," "Die Wissenschaftler*innen (Walter Bapka und Sidonie Cassirer)," or "Die Literat*innen (Julius Kiener und Paula Schlier)." Besides providing background on the figures named in their relation to Ficker's correspondence about Broch, Ender provides a rationale (38–39) showing how connections manifested through Ficker's letters would not have become evident without tracing them.

Space constraints allow only briefer discussion of the other essays, but it is soon apparent that the topic of ethics working parallel or counter to aesthetics was a major issue of the symposium. Anton Unterkircher's essay "Ethic und Ästhetik sind (nicht) Eins: Hermann Broch und das geheime Motto des Brenner" (43–56), for example, shows reciprocal influences between Broch and the defining but never explicitly articulated ethos of that journal in reaction to Wittgenstein's insights in the Tractatus; major contributors to the Brenner are shown as living out its "secret motto." In "The Pathos of Experience: On the Presence of Kierkegaard in Hermann Broch's Authorship—with a View to Theodor Haecker and Der Brenner" (87–99) Steen Tullberg traces the origins of Broch's encounters with the Danish theologian on the subject of values theory as well as Kierkegaard's influence subsequently suffusing Broch's work, directly and as filtered...


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