What connects Shiite passion plays with Brecht's drama? Which of Goethe's poems were inspired by the Quran? How can Ibn Arabi's theology of sighs explain the plays of Heinrich von Kleist? And why did the Persian author Sadeq Hedayat identify with the Prague Jew Franz Kafka?
'One who knows himself and others will here too understand: Orient and Occident are no longer separable': in this new book, the critically acclaimed author and scholar Navid Kermani takes Goethe at his word. He reads the Quran as a poetic text, opens Eastern literature to Western readers, unveils the mystical dimension in the works of Goethe and Kleist, and deciphers the political implications of theatre, from Shakespeare to Lessing to Brecht. Drawing striking comparisons between diverse literary traditions and cultures, Kermani argues for a literary cosmopolitanism that is opposed to all those who would play religions and cultures against one another, isolating them from one another by force. Between Quran and Kafka concludes with Kermani's speech on receiving Germany's highest literary prize, an impassioned plea for greater fraternity in the face of the tyranny and terrorism of Islamic State.
Kermani's personal assimilation of the classics gives his work that topical urgency that distinguishes universal literature when it speaks to our most intimate feelings. For, of course, love too lies 'between Quran and Kafka'.
Country of Publication:
05 January 2017
A / AS level
Further / Higher Education
Contents A Personal Note 1. Don t Follow the Poets! The Quran and Poetry 2. Revolt against God Attar and Suffering 3. World without God Shakespeare and Man 4. Heroic Weakness Lessing and Terror 5. God Breathing Goethe and Religion 6. Filth of My Soul Kleist and Love 7. The Truth of Theatre The Shiite Passion Play and Alienation 8. Liberate Bayreuth! Wagner and Empathy 9. Swimming in the Afternoon Kafka and Germany 10. The Purpose of Literature Hedayat and Kafka 11. For Europe Zweig and the Borders 12. In Defence of the Glass Bead Game Hesse and Decadence 13. The Violence of Compassion Arendt and Revolution 14. Tilting at Windmills Mosebach and the Novel 15. One God, One Wife, One Cheese Golshiri and Friendship 16. Chant the Quran Singingly Neuwirth and Literalist Orthodoxy Appendix On the 65th Anniversary of the Promulgation of the German Constitution Speech to the Bundestag, Berlin, May 23, 2014 On Receiving the Peace Prize of the German Publishers Association Speech in St Paul s Church, Frankfurt am Main, October 18, 2015 About the Text Index
Navid Kermani is a writer and Islamic scholar who lives in Cologne, Germany. He has received numerous accolades for his literary and academic work, including the 2015 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Germany s most prestigious cultural award.
Reviews for Between Quran and Kafka: West-Eastern Affinities
This engaging collection of essays by Kermani examines topics ranging from 10th-century poetic convention to modern-day extremist attacks in an expertly crafted critique of the East-West paradigm that often dominates contemporary discussions of immigration, globalism, and the preservation of ethnic and national identities [It] will be a worthwhile read for anyone who is interested in better understanding the intellectual ties that bridge a social and cultural division that is popularly conceived as being thousands of years wide. Publisher's Weekly