Skip to main content
When philosophy becomes a page-turner

The Father and the Philosopher. Saving the Husserl archives

Toon Horsten

Edmund Husserl is considered to be the founder of phenomenology. He was also the mentor of Martin Heidegger, the most important German philosopher of his generation. When Heidegger chose to work with Hitler and the Nazis, he turned his back on Husserl and was notably absent from his funeral in 1938. ‘The Father and the Philosopher’ is the unknown and astonishing story of Father Herman Leo Van Breda: a young Flemish Franciscan monk who did everything in his power to save Husserl’s legacy – something Heidegger refrained from doing.

A story comparable to a novel by Umberto Eco or Dan Brown, except for the fact that it really happened
De Volkskrant

At first an exciting story about smuggling manuscripts set against the backdrop of the persecution of Jews before and during World War II, this book indirectly develops into a history of European philosophy in the twentieth century. The narrative features almost all the great philosophers of the European continent: Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Paul Ricoeur, Roman Ingarden, Edith Stein, Jean-Paul Sartre, and many others. It also tells the tale of a modern professor of philosophy who turns into an efficient manager to realise his dream: bringing the Husserl archives to safety.

‘The Father and the Philosopher’ was very well received by critics. A third print run is imminent.

This book deserves an international audience.
Stefan Hertmans
A philosophical thriller
NRC Handelsblad