Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

4.2 6
by Modris Eksteins Professor of History
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A rare and remarkable cultural history of World War I that unearths the roots of modernism

Dazzling in its originality, Rites of Spring probes the origins, impact, and aftermath of World War I, from the premiere of Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring in 1913 to the death of Hitler in 1945. Recognizing that “The Great War was the

Overview

A rare and remarkable cultural history of World War I that unearths the roots of modernism

Dazzling in its originality, Rites of Spring probes the origins, impact, and aftermath of World War I, from the premiere of Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring in 1913 to the death of Hitler in 1945. Recognizing that “The Great War was the psychological turning point . . . for modernism as a whole,” author Modris Eksteins examines the lives of ordinary people, works of modern literature, and pivotal historical events to redefine the way we look at our past and toward our future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``In a trailblazing, iconoclastic work of cultural history, Eksteins links the modern avant-garde's penchant for primitivism, abstraction and myth-making to the protofascist ideology and militarism unleashed by WW I,'' reported PW . ``This provocative and disturbing reappraisal of modernism rings with authority.'' Photos. (Apr.)
Library Journal
A brilliantly conceived and wonderfully written book of cultural and intellectual history that considers the impact of World War I on the 20th century. Ekstein (history, Toronto) begins by arguing that the ballet The Rite of Spring prefigured the mass psychology that was necessary to the waging of the war. He then carefully elucidates how the soldiers who fought experienced and internalized the horrors of the trenches. The last third of the book deals with the postwar era, considering Lindbergh's flight and its effect on Europe, the best seller All Quiet on the Western Front , and the Hitler phenomenon. Like Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory (LJ 7/75), this will likely become required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the central importance of the Great War to the decades that followed. For both public and college libraries.-- Ann H. Sullivan, Tompkins Cortland Community Coll. Lib., Dryden, N.Y.
Booknews
Describes World War I as the cultural fulcrum on which history turned into the modern age. From the premier of Stravinsky's Rites of Spring in 1913 to the death of Hitler in 1945, Eksteins (history, Toronto) traces the origins, impact and aftermath of the change through the lives and words of ordinary people, works of literature, and such events as Lindberg's flight. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
"A fertile book." —Paul Fussell

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395937587
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Edition description:
None
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
476,094
Product dimensions:
(w) x (h) x 1.08(d)

Meet the Author


Modris Ekstein is a professor of history at the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
jaharwar More than 1 year ago
Rites of Spring is a very interesting analysis of art and culture and the Great War, and Dr. Eksteins is a quite talented prose stylist, but the OCR of the Nook book is disgraceful. Couldn't the publisher have found a literate, financially-strapped undergraduate to proof read the OCR for a couple hundred bucks? Somebody should be ashamed of themselves and the author should be livid at this botch of an e-book.
Louiser2 More than 1 year ago
Rating the book one star on the basis of the NOOK quality, is wrong, and does a disservice to readers interested in the content, not technical issues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry this review got so long....I got carried away....Rites of Spring is a fascinating look into the cultural tensions emerging in Europe in the years leading up to the outbreak of the First World War. I loved the use of music and art as a window into social history. It's not often you find a book which incorporates ballet and music as integral to understanding WWI history. I read this for a WWI history class. I usually develop an irritation with books I'm required to read, but this book Ifound absolutely fascinating. It is also a book were passages have stuck with me and I recall years later. I am not exaggerating when I say that his chapter on the Christmas Truce brought tears to my eyes. SPOILER............ ......... The story of a lone violin playing Silent Night, a German soldier beginning to sing. The British soldiers listening from across the barren wasteland of No Man's Land, and eventually singing along. It was such a beautifully written passage. Not to sound ridiculously sentimental, but I could hear that violin in my head. It brought the scene to a visceral level that I have rarely experienced. Honestly I would recommend this book based on that "scene" alone. However, Eksteins makes it clear that the above scene was the outlier of WWI. The Christmas Truce never happened again. In fact, it is made clear that the war devolved quickly into dehumanizing brutality. If you are uncomfortable reading descriptive accounts of the gore and violence of war,I would read with caution. In conclusion, the book really forced me to think the deep questions; about humanity and cultural influences on warfare. It is a gripping but heavy read. Sidenote: I would recommend listening to at least the beginning of Stravinsky's score for Rite of Spring before reading (its on YouTube). Hearing the disdonant and jarring nature of the score will really assist in understanding the author's argument.
TedMorgan More than 1 year ago
This is a fine cultural history that I have reread at least twice. Elegant and moving.
Anonymous 23 days ago
This book might change the way one thinks about the 20th century. His thesis, which he gets to around page 319, is that the Great War was when, to western civilization, art became more important than history. The argument is very well made. The author's perspective is clear, intense, and superbly researched. This book is a must read for students of any aspect of the first half of the 20th century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago