Biography as a political and artistic manifesto; Friedrich Hölderlin by Stephan Zweig, Heinrich Heine by Max Brod (MA thesis)
By analyzing the narrative and linguistic resources used by biographers, this work attempts to reveal the intellectual and emotional motives, both the overt and the hidden, which gave rise to a certain biography at a certain time,
The work focuses on the collation of two biographies that were written between the two world wars, by two writers who saw themselves as having a dual identity: Jewish-German. The first one – a biography of Fridrich Hölderlin by Stefan Zweig – was written in 1925 at a time when Jews still believed equal membership within the German society could be attained. The second one – a biography of Heinrich Heine by Max Brod – was written in 1934, after the rise of the Nazism, when the need to find a political solution to the Jewish problem became an urgent matter.
Each of these writers represented a clear cut ideology at the time: Zweig stood for the assimilating, cosmopolitan current, who believed Judaism should strive for the spiritual, moral and the antinational, while Brod, the Zionist, believed that true and healthy Judaism can flourish only when it's connected to its roots and land. When these two biographies are compared, it becomes clear how these two writers, old friends turned antagonists, dealt with their identity crisis by writing a political-artistic manifesto through a biography about another writer belonging to another time.