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

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by Modris Eksteins Professor of History
     
 

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Dazzling in its originality, witty and perceptive in unearthing patterns of behavior that history has erased, RITES OF SPRING probes the origins, the impact, and the 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. "The Great War," as Modris Eksteins writes, "was the psychological turning…  See more details below

Overview

Dazzling in its originality, witty and perceptive in unearthing patterns of behavior that history has erased, RITES OF SPRING probes the origins, the impact, and the 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. "The Great War," as Modris Eksteins writes, "was the psychological turning point . . . for modernism as a whole. The urge to create and the urge to destroy had changed places." In this "bold and fertile book" (Atlantic Monthly), Eksteins goes on to chart the seismic shifts in human consciousness brought about by this great cataclysm through the lives and words of ordinary people, works of literature, and such events as Lindbergh's transatlantic flight and the publication of the first modern bestseller, ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. RITES OF SPRING is a remarkable and rare work, a cultural history that redefines 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.)
"A bold and unforgetable journey into the heart of our Daemonic century." - Alfred Kazin
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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547525525
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/14/2000
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
180,844
File size:
732 KB

Meet the Author

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

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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 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 More than 1 year ago