From dawn to decadence : 500 years of cultural life, 1500 to the present /

Saved in:
Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator: Barzun, Jacques, 1907-2012.
Format: Book
Language:English
Edition:First edition.
Imprint: New York : HarperCollins, [2000]
Subjects:
Description
Summary:

"A stunning five-century study of civilization's cultural retreat." -- William Safire, New York Times

Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has set down in one continuous narrative the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500.

Barzun describes what Western Man wrought from the Renaissance and Reformation down to the present in the double light of its own time and our pressing concerns. He introduces characters and incidents with his unusual literary style and grace, bringing to the fore those that have been forgotten or obscured. His compelling chapters--such as "Puritans as Democrats," "The Monarchs' Revolution," and "The Artist Prophet and Jester"--show the recurrent role of great themes throughout the era.

The triumphs and defeats of five hundred years form an inspiring saga that modifies the current impression of one long tale of oppression by white European males. Women and their deeds are prominent, and freedom (even in sexual matters) is not an invention of the last decades. And when Barzun rates the present not as a culmination but a decline, he is in no way a prophet of doom. Instead, he shows decadence as the normal close of great periods and a necessary condition of the creative novelty that will burst forth--tomorrow or the next day.

Only after a lifetime of separate studies covering a broad territory could a writer create with such ease the synthesis displayed in this magnificent volume.

Physical Description:xviii, 877 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography:Includes bibliographical references (pages 803-828) and indexes.
ISBN:0060175869
Author Notes:Jacques Barzun was born in Créteil, France on November 30, 1907. He came to the United States in 1920 and graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University in 1927. Following graduation, he joined Columbia's faculty as an instructor while continuing his studies in graduate school there, receiving a master's degree in 1928 and a doctorate in French history in 1932. He became a full professor in 1945, was dean of graduate faculties from 1955 to 1958, and dean of faculties from 1958 to 1967. He retired from Columbia University in 1975.

He was a historian and cultural critic. The core of his work was the importance of studying history to understand the present and a fundamental respect for intellect. Although he wrote on subjects as diverse as detective fiction and baseball, he was especially known for his many books on music, nineteenth-century romanticism and education. His works include Darwin, Marx and Wagner: Critique of a Heritage; Romanticism and the Modern Ego; The House of Intellect; Race: A Study in Superstition; Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers; A Stroll with William James; The Culture We Deserve; and From Dawn to Decadence. He died on October 25, 2012 at the age of 104.

(Bowker Author Biography)