Hamann's Prophetic Mission: A Genetic Study of Three Late Works against the Enlightenment

Timothy Beech
1 June 2010
190 pp
Hardback: 978-1-906540-22-7

Johann Georg Hamann (1730-88) was one of the most radical and sophisticated critics of the German Enlightenment. The three late works Konxompax, Metakritik über den Purismum der Vernunft and Golgatha und Scheblimini!, written between 1779 and 1784, are polemics against iconic texts by the Enlightenment luminaries Lessing, Kant and Mendelssohn. This diverse and rich material, ranging from the Fragmentenstreit to Kant's first critique, is refracted through Hamann's radical Lutheranism, with freemasonry and the pagan mystery religions adding lurid apocalyptic highlights. Hamann's idiosyncratic style and heavily intertextual manner of composition gives his works a fascinating and teasing complexity and put his writing at odds with the period's preferred ideals of ease and elegance. For these reasons, he is standing provocation to our assumptions about the eighteenth century.