Hugo Ball. An Intellectual Biography

Philip Mann
1 April 1987
220 × 140 mm
210 pp
Paperback: 978-0-85457-134-5
Hugo Ball (1886-1927) is one of the most enigmatic figures of the Modernist generation. After an initial immersion in the thought of Nietzsche, he became intensely involved in avant-garde Expressionism, was attracted to Futurism, founded Dada and turned towards political journalism, only then to turn his back on the modern world and retreat into highly-structured Roman Catholic orthodoxy. This study neither attempts to reconcile Ball's earlier, 'anarchistic' life with his later, gnostic, Roman Catholicism, nor does it concentrate solely on his Dada years (1916-1917) to the neglect of what preceded and succeeded them. Instead, it attempts to look at Ball's life and works as a whole and to show how the works point beyond themselves, throwing much light on the wider problematic of European Modernism. The study reveals how the common factor underlying works as disparate as Nietzsche in Basel (1910) and Byzantinisches Christentum (1923) is Ball's continuing debate about the ontological nature of the Heraclitean flux which he perceived beneath the surface of contemporary culture.