According to Michael Sonenscher it was German romantic Jean Paul Richter:
I had gone through the midst of the worlds. I mounted unto the suns, and flew with the milky way across the wilderness of heaven; but there is no God. I plunged down as far as Being flings its shadow and pried into the abyss and cried, ‘Father, where art thou?’ But I heard only the everlasting tempest, which no-one sways. And the glittering rainbow of beings was hanging, without a sun that had formed it, over the abyss, and trickling down into it. And, when I looked up towards the limitless world for the eye of God, the world stared back at me with an empty bottomless eye socket; and Eternity was lying upon chaos, and gnawing it to pieces, and chewing the cud of what it had devoured. Scream on, ye discords! Scatter these shades with your screaming. For He is not!
That Richter is excerpt is from Sonenscher’s new and interesting book After Kant: The Romans, the Germans, and the Moderns in the History of Political Thought. One unique feature of Richter’s account is that Christ is the one bearing the news that God is dead. There are so many complainers about the Enlightenment these days, but how many go to the now-grossly underrated source of Richter?
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