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Modes of Faith

Secular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief

In the decades surrounding World War I, religious belief receded in the face of radical new ideas such as Marxism, modern science, Nietzschean philosophy, and critical theology. Modes of Faith addresses both this decline of religious belief and the new modes of secular faith that took religion’s place in the minds of many writers and poets.

Theodore Ziolkowski here examines the motives for this embrace of the secular, locating new modes of faith in art, escapist travel, socialism, politicized myth, and utopian visions. James Joyce, he reveals, turned to art as an escape while Hermann Hesse made a pilgrimage to India in search of enlightenment. Other writers, such as Roger Martin du Gard and Thomas Mann, sought temporary solace in communism or myth. And H. G. Wells, Ziolkowski argues, took refuge in utopian dreams projected in another dimension altogether.

Rooted in innovative and careful comparative reading of the work of writers from France, England, Germany, Italy, and Russia, Modes of Faith is a critical masterpiece by a distinguished literary scholar that offers an abundance of insight to anyone interested in the human compulsion to believe in forces that transcend the individual.

296 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2007

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Religion: Philosophy of Religion, Theology, and Ethics


"Ziolkowski’s breadth of reading, deft handling of disparate sources and genres, and genius for synthesis make this an exemplary work of comparative literature. Essential."


"We should be thankful . . . for this wise, learned, and beautifully written contribution to the project of literature and religion. . . . Ziolkowski has given us a deeply learned and profoundly moving book that deserves to be widely read and studied."

David Jasper | Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"The importance of [the author’s] work is how he reflects on the reaction to traditional faith in the face of a world in crisis. Readers from students to scholars will find this discussion of religious faith and literature well worth their time and reflection."

Forrest Clingerman | Religious Studies Review

"A brilliant insight into the literature of the beginnng of the 20th century."

Ben Vedder | Review of Metaphysics

Table of Contents

Part One:The Decline of Faith
1. Introduction
2. The Melancholy, Long, Withdrawing Roar
3. Theologians of the Profane
Part Two: New Modes of Faith
4. The Religion of Art
5. Pilgrimages to India
6. The God That Failed
7. The Hunger for Myth
8. The Longing for Utopia
Part Three: Conclusion
9. Renewals of Spirituality


Choice Magazine: CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Awards

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