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Passing of the Modern Age


By (author) John R. Lukacs
Genres: History
Format: Paperback
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States
Imprint: Joanna Cotler Books
Published: 30th Jun 1972
Dimensions: w 140mm h 200mm
ISBN-10: 0061316733
ISBN-13: 9780061316739
Barcode No: 9780061316739

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Kirkus US
Lukacs is an historian and his last book, Historical Consciousness (1968), was a scholarly essay in the philosophy of history which touched on "the passing of the modern age." This book is more popular and more relentlessly homiletic. The end of "the urban and urbane era" - viz., the days when the best of bourgeois life-styles could be enjoyed in the city - is a fruitful theme. Lukacs pretty much submerges it in mock-Gibbonsian squibs on the powerlessness of great states, the diminished prestige of the white race, the ailments of "mass democracies," the decline of statesmanship, the problem of not knowing what to do with one's money, the ill-effects of women's emancipation and sexual freedom, and the miscarriage of imperial hopes. Lukacs makes interesting points about demography and vertical mobility; and as descriptive judgments, many of his dim views are well-founded: the shrinking of true literacy, the intelligentsia's "fear and hatred of the common people," fakery and pseudoprimitivism in the arts, scientific progress as less than inexorable. Many of his obiter dicta seem plain wrong: "men being more imaginative than women," "atheism becoming disreputable" even among intellectuals, etc., etc. Of explanatory value the book has little. It ends with a tribute to "the bourgeois interior," Vermeer, and the need for consciousness of the past. This coda is successful; but to carry off the book as a whole would really demand the vivacity of an Auden or the presence of a Toynbee: its staying-power is dubious/doubtful. (Kirkus Reviews)