Modes of FaithSecular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief

Modes of FaithSecular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief

Theodore Ziolkowski

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226983639

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


In the decades surrounding World War I, religious belief receded in the face of radical new ideas such as Marxism, modern science, Nietzschean philosophy, and critical theology. This book addresses both this decline of religious belief and the new modes of secular faith that took religion's place in the minds of many writers and poets. The book examines the motives for this embrace of the secular, locating new modes of faith in art, escapist travel, socialism, politicized myth, and utopian visions. James Joyce turned to art as an escape, while Hermann Hesse made a pilgrimage to India in search of enlightenment. Other writers, such as Roger Martin du Gard and Thomas Mann, sought temporary solace in communism or myth. And H. G. Wells, the book argues, took refuge in utopian dreams projected in another dimension altogether. Rooted in comparative reading of the work of writers from France, England, Germany, Italy, and Russia, the book offers insight in the human compulsion to believe in forces that transcend the individual.