On Looking into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society

On Looking into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society

by Gertrude Himmelfarb
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In these provocative essays, one of our most distinguished historians looks into the abyss of the present. Himmelfarb exposes the intellectual and spiritual impoverishment of some of our most fashionable current ideas—and shows how the vogue for historical structuralism has made it possible to trivialize the tragedy of the Holocaust.See more details below

Overview

In these provocative essays, one of our most distinguished historians looks into the abyss of the present. Himmelfarb exposes the intellectual and spiritual impoverishment of some of our most fashionable current ideas—and shows how the vogue for historical structuralism has made it possible to trivialize the tragedy of the Holocaust.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Noted historian Himmelfarb ( Poverty and Compassion ) deems current intellectual fashions arrogant and spiritually bankrupt in these seven invigorating essays expanded from pieces originally published in Commentary , American Scholar , the New York Times Book Review and elsewhere. She lambastes deconstructionists like Jacques Derrida and Geoffrey Hartman, relativist philosopher Richard Rorty, postmodernists and multiculturalists who ``pluralize and particularize history to the point where people have no history in common.'' Many of these trendy academic schools, argues Himmelfarb, trivialize history, as exemplified by their inability to comprehend the full import of the Holocaust. She also blasts apologists for Martin Heidegger, an ``outspoken and unrepentant Nazi.'' Elsewhere she ponders the internal contradictions confronting Western liberal democracies and the ``lethal combination of nationalism and religion'' sweeping the globe from the Middle East to Yugoslavia. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Critically examining some major trends in contemporary liberal American academic thought, Himmelfarb (history, CUNY) finds arrogance and spiritual impoverishment at the heart of such current academic movements in history, literature, and philosophy as deconstructionism, postmodernism, and the new historicism. She laments that the link between nationalism and religion has been dangerously ignored, particularly since there is a pervasive relationship between what is taught in the universities and what happens in society. Himmelfarb further argues that, with the end of the Cold War, liberalism is its own worst enemy. This is a closely and subtly reasoned analysis, though the dense and complex writing makes for difficult reading. Recommended only for large academic libraries.-- Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., CUNY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679759232
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/1995
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
212
Sales rank:
764,357
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >