PREFACE TO THE FUTURE: Culture in a Consumer Society by Jean Amery

PREFACE TO THE FUTURE: Culture in a Consumer Society

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A preface to the future is also a footnote to the past, and the Belgian author of these provocative essays is engaged in intellectual history, not prophetic sociological analysis. A survey of the Euro-American cultural mainstream since the end of World War II, the book purports to be factual, ""to give information."" It does far more than that. It relates politics, economics and social conditions to the varying forms of cultural expression reflecting them: the French national myth of existential commitment which took the postwar intellectual lead (Sartre, Aragon, Camus); the writer-crusaders of the Cold War in search of an anti-Communist ideology (Arthur Koestler); later in America, not fiction or philosophy, but the sociology that took to task the analysis of modern industrial society (The Lonely Crowd. The Organization Man); a decade's lack of national culture in Germany caused by a ""lingering neurosis of the Third Reich""; England's loss of intellectual balance expressed in the cult of the ""Angry Young Men."" All these comprise the elusive ""Spirit of the Times"" that historians in years to come settle upon as fact. Here it is recorded as contemporary history, a difficult endeavor subject to the accusation of subjectivity and overly personal interpretation, and yet the factual basis remains unchallenged. Literature, journalism, theater, cinema are projections of the state of the civilization that generates them. The discussions of these forms with the theories tying them together make this book a fascinating account, if not the last historical word, then at least the kind of thought that ought to form a larger part of the West's constant auto-analysis. An excellent version of European ""journalism of ideas.

Publisher: Ungar