THE IDEA OF EUROPE by

THE IDEA OF EUROPE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

De Rougemont attempts an evolutionary panorama of Europe as a cultural entity, using for his family tree the thoughts of the most significant ""eyewitnesses"" from antiquity to the present. What unfolds is certainly a formidable assemblage of quotations from literature, history, and philosophy, coupled with the author's interlocking commentary. Alas, the result is not always successful. For one thing, the quotations are often unduly truncated: anyone unfamiliar with Leibnitz, or Hegel, or Marx, say, will surely be puzzled by many of the snippets which only vaguely suggest the commanding shape of their original source. For another, the subtle ideological shifts, as well as certain cultural movements, are not subjected to enough keen critical evaluation. There are, for instance, no real socio-economic, political, or military parallels through which the passing parade of twenty-eight centuries can be perceived. De Rougemont merely offers impressive-sounding abstractions: the one-world concept, the myth or mission of federation, and so forth. The scope is undeniable, but the lofty landscape is rather distant or austere. One senses that de Rougemont is not personally engaged; the phrasing has a deadening thickness, the compression of events at times grows monotonous. Only with the opening section, ""From Hesiod to Charlemagne,"" does the charm and scholarly fervor we associate with the author of Love in the Western World make itself felt.

Publisher: Macmillan