That is another truly splendid book by Navid Kermani. Imagine deep and thoughtful essays on Goethe and Islam, Kleist and love, Shiite passion plays, Wagner and empathy, and why he doesn’t so much sympathize with King Lear, all from a George Steiner brand of polymath. As I’ve mentioned before, Kermani is ethnically Persian but was born and grew up in Germany. Imagine a devout Muslim absorbing and internalizing the best of German classical literary culture, including Lessing, Zweig, Benjamin, Mann, and much more. He recreates a version of that tradition that otherwise would be inaccessible to us. And might he now be Germany’s best and most important public intellectual?
I’d like to put forward a simple hypothesis. Tune down the yappers. Read and study Kermani, Michel Houllebecq, Bruno Maçães, Ross Douthat, and assorted others. Once I wrote: “Remember people, the influential thinkers of the next generation will be the religious ones…whether you like it or not.” This is what I meant, and I don’t even know if the second and third writers on my list believe in God.
Here is my previous post on Kermani.