THE MODERN TRADITION by
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THE MODERN TRADITION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An anthology of three centuries of revolutionary documents and thought which in its taste, dimensions and pertinence, its brilliantly alive spirit, is quite unlike any other. The inclusiveness of the title is perfectly justified. There are nine sections: Symbolism, Realism, Nature, Cultural History, The Unconscious, Myth, Self Consciousness, Existence, Faith; each section related to all the others, and each weighty enough (in value and sometimes in poundage) to be a book in itself. As an example of the undertaking's scope (not to mention the complex ironies involved), the first extract, Wilde's famous dialogue, ""The Decay of Lying,"" introduces his witty paradox, namely ""that Life imitates Art more than Art imitates Life""; the concluding specimen, from Tillich, is an essay ""The Meaning of Meaninglessness,"" a summing-up of crisis theology, the last lines of which are italicized: ""The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt."" (One wonders what Wilde would have made of that!) Between these two, lie the makers of modernism, some in the depths, some on the Olympian slopes, a few at conservative mid-points. The galaxy includes Rousseau, Goethe, Coleridge, Kant, Eliot, Lawrence, Blake, Nietzsche, Rilke, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Dostoevsky, Mann and so forth. True, there's no mathematician, but there is the physicist Heisenberg, the biologist Darwin, the economist Marx; and musicians (Wagner), painters (Arp, Ernest), anthropologists (Frazer, Malinowski), ample amounts of Freud and Jung, and two currently crucial manifestoes by Robbe-Grillet and Lukacs. The professors supply cogent introductions to each section. A superlative guide.

Publisher: Oxford