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Title: Schnitzler's Century : The Making of ...
Publisher: Allan Lane The Penguin Press
Publication Date: 2001
Book Condition: Good +
Dust Jacket Condition: Good +
About this title
An audacious work, Schnitzler's Century reassesses nineteenth-century history and traces the dramatic rise of the middle class. We have always believed that corseted Queen Victoria defined the mores of the nineteenth century. Yet Peter Gay asserts in this provocative, seminal work that it is the sexually emboldened Viennese playwright, Arthur Schnitzler, who provides a better symbol for the age. Challenging many sacrosanct notions about middle-class prudery and hypocrisy, he shows that in important ways, the Victorians were not Victorians. Gay chronicles the rise of modernity in countries as diverse as Germany and Italy, England and the United States, and in doing so presents a century filled with science and superstition, revolutionaries and reactionaries, eros and anxiety—in short, an age of contradiction rendered remarkably clear by one of our most eloquent historians. Not since Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror has a century been brought alive as dramatically. Schnitzler's Century is nothing less than a tour de force, a work that tells us with remarkable lucidity how we came to be the way we are. 13 b/w illustrations.Review:
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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