Original Research

Dissecting modernist religion in Gottfried Keller’s Das verlorene Lachen

F. Hale
Koers - Bulletin for Christian Scholarship/Bulletin vir Christelike Wetenskap | Vol 72, No 1 | a191 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koers.v72i1.191 | © 2007 F. Hale | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 July 2007 | Published: 27 July 2007

About the author(s)

F. Hale, Department of English, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Abstract

In the wake of the Enlightenment and heavily influenced by serious challenges in Biblical scholarship to conventional doctrines, various kinds of liberal theology emerged in European Protestantism of both the Reformed and Lutheran traditions. Within the Calvinist-Zwinglian churches of Switzerland, this came to expression in, inter alia, progressive religion which stood in marked contrast to confessional orthodoxy. The novelist Gottfried Keller had been influenced by the German atheistic philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach in the 1840s and shortly thereafter gained prominence as one of the most gifted Swiss writers of his era. In his novella “Das verlorene Lachen”, Keller systematically rejected confessional Reformed orthodoxy, liberal currents in the Reformed churches, Roman Catholicism and Protestant nonconformity as intellectually archaic and out of harmony with the democratic and egalitarian spirit of the times, either products of supporters or a stratified social system which he found unacceptable.

Keywords

Gottfried Keller; Modernist Religion; Swiss Protestantism; Switzerland; Liberal Theology

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