1930: Europe in the Shadow of the Beast

1930: Europe in the Shadow of the Beast

by Arthur Haberman


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The year 1930 can be seen as the dawn of a period of darkness, the beginning of a decade that Auden would style “low, dishonest.” That year was one of the most reflective moments in modernity. After the optimism of the nineteenth century, the West had stumbled into war in 1914. It managed to survive a conflagration, but it failed in the aftermath to create something valued.

In 1930, Europe was questioning itself and its own viability. Where are we heading? a number of public intellectuals asked. Who are we and how do we build moral social and political structures? Can we continue to believe in the insights and healing quality of our culture? Major thinkers—Mann, Woolf, Ortega, Freud, Brecht, Nardal, and Huxley— as well as a number of artists, including Picasso and Magritte, and musicians, such as Weill, sought to grapple with issues that remain central to our lives today:

  • the viability of a secular Europe with Enlightenment values
  • coming to terms with a darker view of human nature
  • mass culture and its dangers; the rise of the politics of irrationality
  • identity and the “other” in Western civilization
  • new ways to represent the postwar world
  • the epistemological dilemma in a world of uncertainty; and
  • the new Fascism—was it a new norm or an aberration?

    Arthur Haberman sees 1930 as a watershed year in the intellectual life of Europe and with this book, the first to see the contributions of the public intellectuals of 1930 as a single entity, he forces a reconsideration and reinterpretation of the period.

  • Product Details

    ISBN-13: 9781771123617
    Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
    Publication date: 09/25/2018
    Pages: 216
    Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

    About the Author

    Arthur Haberman is University Professor of History and Humanities at York University. He is the author of 1930: Europe in the Shadow of the Beast (WLU Press, 2018) and The Making of the Modern Age, and the co-author of The West and the World: Contacts, Conflicts, Connections.

    Table of Contents

    Introduction 1

    Prologue: Europeans, 1930 5

    1 The Uncanny and Its Power Thomas Mann 17

    2 Transcending Virginia Woolf 33

    3 José Ortega y Gasset: Rethinking the West 49

    4 Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill: Rethinking Theatre, Remaking Opera 67

    5 L'âme noir: The Black Soul in the City of Light 87

    6 L.H.O.O.Q.: Painting in 1930 107

    7 Aldous Huxley: Fearing the Future 129

    8 Sigmund Freud: The Fragility of Civilization 143

    9 Yesterday and Today 163

    Epilogue: Europeans Today 213

    Acknowledgements 221

    Notes 223

    Bibliographical Notes 231

    Additional Reading 239

    Index 241

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