In twentieth-century German literature, Alfred Döblin's novel The Three Leaps of Wang Lun is an outstanding example not only of the invention of a charismatic leader but also of an attempt to analyze those aspects of charisma that Max Weber did not want to touch on. Döblin saw charisma as a process of social interaction (as Weber later described it), but he also considered the affective and physiological micro-processes that enable social bonds and the formation of social groups. The novel proposes a narrative about charisma that comprises the physiological conditions of charisma, tracing the process of its bestowal and the establishment of charismatic leadership against the background of contemporary physiology and medicine. Döblin does not intend to illustrate, reflect, or surpass sociology's knowledge with literary means. Rather, he tells the story of a charismatic leader's rise in a way that corresponds to the basic insights of sociology: charisma cannot be understood as a property of one person.
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Armin Schäfer; The Physiology of Charisma: Alfred Döblin's Novel The Three Leaps of Wang Lun. New German Critique 1 November 2011; 38 (3 (114)): 79–93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-1340057
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