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Weimar ThoughtA Contested Legacy$
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Peter E. Gordon and John P. McCormick

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691135106

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691135106.001.0001

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Eastern Wisdom in an Era of Western Despair

Eastern Wisdom in an Era of Western Despair

Orientalism in 1920s Central Europe

(p.341) 16 Eastern Wisdom in an Era of Western Despair
Weimar Thought

Suzanne Marchand

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines a little-known aspect of Weimar intellectual life: the deep and serious interest many took in what was usually referred to as “eastern wisdom.” It focuses on the relatively obscure alternative institution which called itself the Schule der Weisheit, founded in 1920 in Darmstadt. The brainchild of the eccentric Baltic aristocrat Hermann Graf Keyserling, the Schule der Weisheit lends itself to easy parody; it was, by the account of one visitor, a “super-Chatauqua,” attended by poet-scholars with Whitmanesque hair and Byronic open shirts, bluestocking yoga fanatics and a not inconsiderable number of astrologers. And yet, the Schule's meditation lessons and lecture series also drew in scores of important intellectuals from across central and eastern Europe, and was crucial in popularizing scholarly findings and translations of non-western “classics” produced before and during the Great War.

Keywords:   eastern wisdom, Hermann Graf Keyserling, Weimar Republic, Schule der Weisheit, Orientalism

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