PROPHETS OF A NEW AGE by Martin Green

PROPHETS OF A NEW AGE

The Politics of Hope from the Eighteenth through the Twenty-first Centuries

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Green (The Mount Vernon Street Warrens, 1990, etc.) looks at the loosely connected set of ``ideas, icons, myths, and rituals'' that have recurred toward the ends of the past few centuries in order to energize and spiritualize the arid periods in between. The author defines the current New Age--which, he says, began in the 60's--in the historical context of two earlier, primarily English, ones: that of 1776-1800, and that of 1880-1910. The three periods, Green says, share preoccupations with political change, experimental music, medicine, sex, primitivism, Orientalism, and the familiar axis of love/nature/peace/spirituality. These concerns are manifested in three voices: ``authoritarian'' (political), ``systematic'' (intellectual), and ``naive'' (idealistic), and are incarnated in such figures as Tom Paine, Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Green's own hero, Gary Snyder. The author finds relevance, resemblance, and illumination among many diverse New Age expressions, from Doris Lessing to Shirley MacLaine, Shelley to D.H. Lawrence, feminists, vegetarians, occultists, ecologists, animal rightists, even satanists and the Arthurianists, who periodically revive the search for Camelot. Green explores alternative living arrangements from Robert Owen's geometrical garden cities of 1815 to Asconia, the Swiss experimental village founded in 1900, to Haight Ashbury. Occasionally, his similarities are strained--as when he places Norman Mailer in the tradition of William Blake. Green's history--personal, associative, intuitive, presenting an immense amount of diverse materials in a coherent, imaginative, and convincing form--is itself an expression of the New Age. (Illustrations--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-684-19316-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1992