9780393323634 / 0393323633

Schnitzler's Century: The Making of Middle-Class Culture 1815-1914


Publisher:W. W. Norton & Company



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About the book:

Prolific author Peter Gay describes the rise of the middle class in the 19th century through an unexpected lens: the life of Viennese playwright Arthur Schnitzler. Yet Gay's themes are much larger than the somewhat obscure Schnitzler: "If we may call [my book] a biography at all, it is one of a class," he writes. Schnitzler's Century necessarily focuses on the Victorians--a term often applied only to the British, but here extended to all of Europe and the United States--and Gay seeks to portray them in their complexity and diversity. "There are many people who think they have grasped the Victorian mentality when they have smiled at gushy keepsakes, maudlin poems, shy euphemisms, silences about matters that matter," he writes. In fact, "they lived with their eyes open." Gay has written a history of habits, with close attention paid to sexual ones. It is the sort of provocative book that the stereotypical Victorian would want to see removed from the storefront window--but also would want to peek at when nobody else was looking. --John Miller

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