History and utopia: Central European Jewish thought in the works of Joseph Roth and Gyorgy Konrad
Piloiu, Rares G.
MetadataShow full item record
The present dissertation analyzes the fusion between utopia and history accomplished in the literary and essayistic works of two prominent 20 th century Central European writers: Joseph Roth and György Konrád. It proceeds by way of examining the secular Judaic origins of their thinking and indicates their indebtedness to a generation of Jewish thinkers, such as Martin Buber, Ernst Bloch and Walter Benjamin, who first laid the foundation for a moral unification between the social conception of historical existence and the messianic idea of redemption. The conclusions of the present study indicate that Joseph Roth's fictionalization of the Eastern Jewish world and of imperial Austria, as well as György Konrád's political theory and idealization of Central Europe are inseparable from the ethos of secular Jewish utopianism, to which they give a renewed expression. Their moral conception of the world and the notion of universal humanity convey in fictional terms the literary counterpart to a theory which appropriates the Judaic messianic doctrine in order to provide a utopian solution to the insoluble conflict between the persistence of history and the religious imperative of salvation. The investigation of this particular conceptual and thematic connection was carried out with the means of comparative intellectual history, which analyzed both the synchronic relatedness among similar theoretical problems and the diachronic influence and reciprocal impact of certain ideas on their own historical time and context. The primary sources cover an extensive portion of the work of the two main subjects of investigation, Joseph Roth and György Konrád, while the secondary sources offer an ample review of the main literature dedicated to the two authors both in English and in German.