The Crisis of Reason: European Thought, 1848-1914 (Yale Intellectual History of the West)
ISBN 0300083904 (0-300-08390-4)
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Hardcover, Yale University Press, 2000
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Book summary: This elegant and skilful book explores the history of ideas in Europe from the revolutions of 1848 to the beginning of the First World War. Broader than a straight survey, deeper and richer than a textbook, the work seeks to place the reader in the position of 'an informed eavesdropper on the intellectual conversations of the past'. After an introductory chapter which introduces the mental world of the mid-nineteenth century, Burrow explores the impact of science and social thought on European intellectual life, considering ideas in physics, through social evolution and Social Darwinism, to anxieties about modernity and personal identity. His discussion also takes in powerful and fashionable concepts in evolution, art, myth, the occult and the unconscious mind, considers the rise of the great cities of Berlin, Paris and London, and the work of literary writers, philosophers and composers. The text is populated by most of the great and many of the lesser known intellectual figures of the age, from Mill, Bakunin, Nietzsche, Bergson and Renan to Pater, Proust, Clough, Flaubert, Wagner and Wilde. A work of rare distinction and considerable erudition, the book is written in a graceful, entertaining style, which will ensure its accessibility to the widest range of scholars, students and general readers.
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