From Dawn to Decadence: years of western cultural life: to the present by DAISY for print-disabled Download ebook for print-disabled (DAISY). Drawing on a lifetime of studies across a broad territory, highly regarded cultural historian and critic Jacques Barzun here synthesizes the sum of his discoveries. Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has now set down in.
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The product of the author's lifetime, this powerful narrative, insterrsperses the author's analysis of wars, philosophy, science, manners, sex, religion, morals, art, . FROM DAWN TO. DECADENCE. Years of Western. Cultural Life. to the Present. JACQUES BARZUN. Ha. HarperCollins/^/zs/rers. voivestawimon.ml: From Dawn to Decadence: to the Present: Years of Western Cultural Life (): Jacques Barzun: Books.
This is a unique, idiosyncratic, provocative work that is definitely not a linear, dispassionate account, but a critical, personal and thorough re-evaluation of the modern era.
It is, in my opinion, no coincidence that the only philosopher of science who really gets any attention in his book is Thomas Kuhn — who else.
But I get the strong feeling that, in his ultimately conservative and possibly even elitist view of culture, these are aspects that would not gain his approval. Coming to the history of philosophical thought, he has a clear preference for Schopenhauer - this is OK, after all he is one of my favourite philosophers! It must also be said that many important philosophers do not get mentioned, while for example obscure writers get the attention of the author. The author is erudite, highly original and insightful.
These parts are riveting, instructive, of high scholarly value, fully rounded, and a joy to read — historical writing at its best. Many very interesting points are elaborated convincingly and with strength — he destroys several common misconceptions and intellectual superstitions that have been perpetuated by much popular history writing.
There are so many interesting and original points that I can only just begin to list them within the constraints of a book review. His rendering of the unique and utterly fascinating Venetian Republic is masterful. From to it was the pursuit of political freedom and individual rights, culminating in the French Revolution. From to it was the search for social and economic equality, exploding in the Russian Revolution. In the past century, it has been an uneasy amalgam of all three.
Now, if his bleakest pronouncements are to be taken at face value, it is nothing at all: Entropy has replaced ideology.
The story starts with Luther because the religious revolution he began lit the fires of individualism that burned ever more brightly thereafter. Barzun sees the religious, monarchical, liberal and collectivist revolutions as a chain reaction triggered by increasing demands for individual rights. It is a grim irony that the pursuit of equal rights for all should culminate in a collectivist revolution that sought to obliterate the individual: Luther said that every man was a priest; the monarchs who built the nations of the 17th and 18th centuries undermined the nobility and inadvertently?
The revolutions of the late 18th century converted subjects into citizens, and Marx sought to turn political equality into economic equality.
That is the canopy that Barzun erects over his luxuriant garden of ideas and aphorisms. He shows his age in only one respect: That is at best otiose and, when he dismisses the leading figures in the French Revolution as "men who lacked mature political talent", ludicrously banal.
Most of all, Barzun wants to judge the present generation, and he finds us sadly lacking. Institutions function painfully.
Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result. Boredom and fatigue are great historical forces. This vision, outlined in the sketchiest section of the book, only appears persuasive because of a trick of perspective.