Scholarly, somewhat abstruse study of the rise and decline of 19th-century liberalsim—as exemplified in the events and personalities that made Zurich a breeding- and later a testing-ground for the movement. Craig (Humanities/Stanford; The Germans, 1982) presupposes broad knowledge of the complexities of European history. Before the 19th century, Zurich citizens regarded their hometown as "Athens on the Limmat"; Craig takes great pains to establish just how mistaken they were. It was not until after the French Revolution, he argues, that liberalism transformed the city into one of Europe's most liberal, noted for its political and civil liberties, its educational and economic advances. Zurich became a gathering spot for an international cast of revolutionaries. Among the most interesting of these was Emma Herwegh, a sort of proto-Rosa Luxemburg, who, between throwing herself into the thick of battle and engineering prison escapes for her friends, was at the center of a coterie of artists and socialists that included Franz Liszt, Ferdinand Lassalle, Frank Wedekind, and Richard Wagner (whom Herwegh described as "a heartless egoist"). Eventually, the liberalism founded on individualism and civic responsibility degenerated into a system in which preserving the status quo became an overweening political concern. A gathering of intriguing material that for its density may, however, daunt the casual reader. Craig's refusal to translate extended quotations from the original French and German doesn't help any, either.
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