||Buch der Narrheit continues a series of feuilletons and philosophical stories, published by Herzl from 1885 onward, distinguished by their fine sense of style and profound observations on human destiny and the future of technology and pervaded by a spirit of sadness.
Theodor Herzl (Binyamin Ze'ev; 1860–1904), father of political Zionism and founder of the World Zionist Organization. Herzl was born in Budapest on May 2, 1860. In his childhood he used to accompany his father to the Liberal Temple, the Tabakgasse, near the house in which he was born. In general, his mother sought to educate him in the spirit of the German-Jewish "Enlightenment" of the period. In 1866 Herzl entered the Jewish elementary school in Pest; in 1870, the municipal Realschule; and in 1875 the classical evangelical high school, from which he graduated in 1878. While still a child, Herzl displayed writing ability, an interest in technology, and a drive for great achievements. In 1878, after the death of his only sister, Pauline (who was a year older than he, and whose passing left a deep scar on his emotional life), the family moved to Vienna, and Herzl enrolled at the faculty of law at the University of Vienna. In 1881 he joined Albia, a German students' society, but left in 1883 in protest against the anti-Semitism that he encountered in it. This protest was not a casual reaction on Herzl's part. The Jewish problem had caught his attention at least as early as 1882, when he read E. Duehring's Die Judenfrage als Rassen-Sitten-und Kulturfrage. Thereafter he was to return to this subject in various phases of his life and attempted to find a solution to it.
From October 1891 to July 1895 Herzl was the Paris correspondent of the Vienna Neue Freie Presse, the influential liberal newspaper of the time. During his Paris sojourn he became absorbed by French political and social problems and particularly by French parliamentary life; a selection of his articles on the latter topic was published in book form (Das Palais Bourbon, 1895). The growth of anti-Semitism in France stirred Herzl's interest in the Jewish problem, and an article by him on the subject of French anti-Semites appeared in the Neue Freie Presse as early as August, 1892. After a two-year stay in Paris, Herzl came to regard the Jewish problem as a social question that could be solved by the organized, mass conversion of Jewish youth, as well as by their affiliation with the socialist movement. Before long, however, he realized that this was not the solution. In the drama Das Ghetto (later renamed Das Neue Ghetto), which he wrote in the fall of 1894, Herzl sought to put the Jewish problem on the theater stage and thereby raise public discussion. In a way, this move was the beginning of a new approach to the Jewish problem. It was Herzl's hope that a public debate of the Jewish problem - in place of its previous restriction to the realm of private discussion - would lead to a satisfactory solution based on the mutual tolerance and respect of Christians and Jews. In the drama, Herzl rejects assimilation and conversion as solutions to the problem. The Dreyfus Case led Herzl to draw his final conclusions. He attended the trial as the Neue Freie Presse's correspondent and was a witness to the riotous behavior of the Parisian mob when the innocent Jewish officer was publicly humiliated in a ceremony stripping him of his military rank (January 5, 1895). The shouts of "Death to the Jews" ringing in his ears, Herzl became convinced that the only solution was the mass exodus of the Jews from their present places of residence, infested by anti-Semitism, and their resettlement in a territory of their own. He decided to apply himself to the realization of this idea.