Historie – Otázky – Problémy

Franz Werfel and his Relationship Towards Christianity and Judaism


Abstract: Franz Werfel (1890–1945) is one of the most prominent Prague German authors not only for his outstanding lyrical, prose and dramatic works but also because of his essayistic deliberations on the development of mankind’s morals in the 20th century. One of the cornerstones of a modern person’s correct development is also his or her attitude towards religion. A member of the Prague Jewish elite, he did not choose the usual intellectual approach. He strived for understanding and “reconciliation” of Judaism with Catholic Christianity which he admired greatly for the redemptory sacrifice of the great Jewish prophet Jesus Christ. He searched for the causes of the restless uprootedness of modern man and thought that he found the answer lay in the loss of moral certainties and faith in God. He explains modern man’s predicament in excellent essays Realismus und Innerlichkeit (Realism and Inwardness). By realism, he understands the attitudes of contemporary man; by inwardness, he means the overlap of said attitudes towards the metaphysical values that his period lacks. In Können wir ohne Gottesglauben leben? (Can we live without faith in God?) he asks himself a question whether the conviction of his contemporaries that the reality that surrounds us is a mere reflection of our sensual perception can hold water. This paper will try to display a complete picture of Werfel’s effort to set morality right, the research of which has never been given enough space.

Keywords: Franz Werfel; Christianity; Judaism; religion; morality; realism; inwardness (Innerlichkeit); philosophy; theology

Prof. PhDr. Milan Tvrdík, CSc., působí v Ústavu germánských studií Filozofické fakulty Univerzity Karlovy, kde byl v letech 2000–2011 ředitelem. Věnuje se především historii německé, švýcarské a rakouské literatury, německé literatuře v českých zemích a pražské židovské literatuře ( milan.tvrdik@ff.cuni.cz).