The Decline of the West (Oxford Paperbacks)

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9780195066340: The Decline of the West (Oxford Paperbacks)
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Since its first publication in two volumes between 1918-1923, The Decline of the West has ranked as one of the most widely read and most talked about books of our time. In all its various editions, it has sold nearly 100,000 copies. A twentieth-century Cassandra, Oswald Spengler thoroughly probed the origin and "fate" of our civilization, and the result can be (and has been) read as a prophesy of the Nazi regime. His challenging views have led to harsh criticism over the years, but the knowledge and eloquence that went into his sweeping study of Western culture have kept The Decline of the West alive. As the face of Germany and Europe as a whole continues to change each day, The Decline of the West cannot be ignored.
The abridgment, prepared by the German scholar Helmut Werner, with the blessing of the Spengler estate, consists of selections from the original (translated into English by Charles Francis Atkinson) linked by explanatory passages which have been put into English by Arthur Helps. H. Stuart Hughes has written a new introduction for this edition.
In this engrossing and highly controversial philosophy of history, Spengler describes how we have entered into a centuries-long "world-historical" phase comparable to late antiquity. Guided by the philosophies of Goethe and Nietzsche, he rejects linear progression, and instead presents a world view based on the cyclical rise and decline of civilizations. He argues that a culture blossoms from the soil of a definable landscape and dies when it has exhausted all of its possibilities.
Despite Spengler's reputation today as an extreme pessimist, The Decline of the West remains essential reading for anyone interested in the history of civilization.

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From the Back Cover:

"This grand panorama, this imaginative sweep, this staggering erudition, this Nietzschean prose, with its fine color and ringing force, mark a work that must endure."

-- Henry Hazlitt, New York Sun.

"Here is one of the mighty books of the century, which, sooner or later, will be read by all who ponder the riddle of existence... it is a truly monumental work, at once depressing in its pessimism and exhilarating in its compelling challenge to our accepted ideas."

-- Arthur D. Gayer, The Forum.

"As one reads Spengler the thought keeps recurring, ever more insistently, that here again is one of those universal minds which we had come to think were no longer possible."

-- Allen V. Peden,

St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"Audacious, profound, crochety, absurd, exciting, and magnificent."

-- Lewis Mumford, The New Republic."With monumental learning, with an independence and coldness of judgment which defers nothing to great names or consecrated opinions, and in a style always forceful and in places eloquent, Spengler surveys man's cosmic march, analyzes social classes and the work of leaders, dissects the idea of the State... challenges the economic interpretation of history and appraises religion and religions, only to find them all, in the culture of the West, running fast to decay under the impetus of civilization doomed by destiny from which there is no escape."

-- William MacDonald, New York Times.

"Not since Nietzsche left his indelible mark upon European thought has a work of philosophy come out of Germany, or any other country in Europe, comparable in importance, brilliance and encyclopaedic knowledge with The Decline of the West."

-- Ernest Boyd, The Independent.

"For his methods, his challenges, and his attempts to portray the morphology of civilization, and his flaming appeal to the imagination, Spengler should be read by all who are trying to grope their way in the dusk of evening or dawn."

-- Charles Beard, New York Herald Tribune Books.

From the Inside Flap:

Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 at Blankenburg, Germany. He studied mathematics, philosophy, and history at Munich and Berlin. Except for his doctor's thesis on Heraclitus, he published nothing before the first volume of The Decline of the West, which appeared when he was thirty-eight. The Agadir crisis of 1911 provided the immediate incentive for his exhaustive investigations of the background and origins of our civilization. He chose his main title in 1912, finished the first draft of "Form and Actuality" ("Gestalt und Wirklichkeit") two years later, and published the volume in 1918. The second, extensively revised edition, from which the present translation was made, appeared in 1923. The concluding volume, "Perspectives of World-History" ("Welthistorische Perspektiven"), was published in 1922. The Decline of the West was first published in this country in 1906 (Vol. I) and 1928 (Vol. II).

For many years Spengler lived quietly in his home in Munich. thinking, writing, and pursuing his hobbies - the collecting of pictures and primitive weapons, listening to Beethoven quartets, reading the comedies of Shakespeare and Moliere, and taking occasional trips to the Harz Mountains and to Italy. He died suddenly of a heart attack in Munich three weeks before his fifty-sixth birthday.

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