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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Hermann Broch … Europe: past, present & future (?)

Hermann Broch wrote what I think is the definitive pre-Hitlerian story of how Germany (and Europe, if you care to take the long view) lost its way, from about the time of Wilhelm II to the running brook that became Nazism. Broch’s THE SLEEPWALKERS is a trilogy that takes place some 16-20 years apart, with interrelated stories and characters. The effect is more than chilling, when set against what we have witnessed since post-WW II Europe and America (perhaps also from a post-colonial world-view).

june 14, 2010

” ‘Yes, you see, Europe has already become a pretty dubious field for the Church. But Africa, on the other hand! Hundreds of millions of souls as raw material for the Faith. And you can rest assured that a baptized negro is a better Christian than twenty Europeans. If the Catholics and the Protestants want to steal a march on each other for the winning of these fanatics it’s very understandable; for there’s where the future of their religion lies; there will be found the future warriors of the faith who will march out one day, burning and slaying in Christ’s name, against a heathen Europe sunk in corruption, to set at last, amid the smoking ruins of Rome, a black Pope on the throne of Peter.’ ”

– Hermann Broch, “The Romantic” (THE SLEEPWALKERS trilogy)

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