Alexey Žerebin. Hölderlin’s Novel Hyperion and the utopia of the “third kingdom” an European culture. Vol. 1. No. 2. 2016

Publication Details

Hölderlin’s Novel Hyperion and the utopia of the “third kingdom” an European culture
Title in the language of publication: Роман Гёльдерлина «Гиперион» и утопия «третьего царства» в европейской культуре
Alexey Žerebin
Doctor of Philology, Professor, Head of the Department of Foreign Literature at the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia
Address: 48 Moika embankment, St. Petersburg 191186, Russia.
P. 5–17.
Language: Russian
Document type: Research Article


Hölderlin’s Novel “Hyperion” (1799) is at the origin of the over two century history of the notion of the “Third Kingdom” as “God’s Kingdom”. It is based on the romantic idea of the cyclic course of the historical and universal (theantropic) process — an idea deriving from Gnosticism which found its logical justification in Hegel’s dialectic triad (thesis — antithesis — synthesis). The idea of cycle constitutes the mythological subtext of “Hyperion” as well as that of the entire text of broadly understood modernist culture. This idea implies an incomplete identity of the initial unconscious truth (Golden Age) and final conscious or reflective truth (God’s Kingdom), that of the original non-differentiation (of God and the world, of the immanent and transcendent, of the subject and object, of the male and female principles etc.) and their ultimate non-differentiation, or, as the Russian symbolists put it, undifferentiatedness-fusion. In Hölderlin’s terms, antiquity is the thesis, while future Germany as the bearer of the idea of Europe is the synthesis. Hölderlin’s experimental hero keenly feels the dissonance inherent to the transitory state of the world at the stage of antithesis; he feels disappointment in matters of love and freedom and he falls at the edge of nihilism and metaphysical despair. Yet the stage of antithesis is, in the novel’s terms, a situation of crisis on the eve of upcoming resolution of all the contradictions in the synthesis, which is embodied in the esthetic concept “theocracy of beauty”. The latter is intended to overcome the antinomy of anthropocentrism and theocentrism, liberalism and totalitarianism. This ideal finds its herald in Diotima, the heiress of the mystical Holy Sophia, the soul of the “new church”, communal godly mankind, united by the principle of universal love. The present article is an essay of generalizing the conceptual plot of “Hyperion” at the mythotectonic level, which entitles us to see it as part and parcel of the paradigm based on the idea of Europe as the “third Kingdom”.


Anthropocentrism, the godly humankind, metanarrative, mystic awareness, the modern era, revolution, Romanticism, Utopia, Millenarism.


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© Alexey Žerebin, 2016

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