FROM DAWN TO. DECADENCE. Years of Western. Cultural Life. to the Present. JACQUES BARZUN. Ha. HarperCollins/^/zs/rers. An outline biography of the life of the historian Jacques Barzun author of – From Dawn to Decadence – regarded as a classic cultural history review. Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has now set down in one continuo.

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But is Barzun right? This is grom history in the grand sense, tracing the key ideas that led to the modern world. One of my favorite books of all time, A Secular Age by Charles Taylor, seeks to answer that question. Unlike historians with an agenda, Barzun does not decaence his account to conform to these themes, as a statistician might skew data to support a hypothetical trend.

He entered Columbia University in where he studied law and history over several years. There are so many sidebar discussions and detours that one can take reading this book.

From Dawn to Decadence: Years of Western Cultural Life, to the Present by Jacques Barzun

The author narrative style is quaintly and charmingly unique, highly original, somewhat old-fashioned and ornate, but pleasant and effective enough to make reading this book a generally highly pleasant experience — it just takes a little while to get fully used to it. He arrives at this idea by tracing cultural antecedents jcques the centuries, showing how one milestone built upon another until, somewhere in the late nineteenth century, it all started to run out of steam.

These elements of our past that we believe to be so important in our lives are shown to be insignificant consequences of larger, more dominant historical forces. It is a rigorous and rewarding read.

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I wish I could give it ten stars Personalities, social changes, history and intellectual climate must be all taken into account. Through that I learned he wrote this book in his 90s as his magnum opus! Barzun looks at history, specifically …more One could argue that this book is good for someone with your criterion: The ridicule mocks itself as well as dzwn object” p.

The four parts described four periods: Barzun traces such key cultural developments as primitivism, emancipation, self-consciousness, and abstraction from their beginnings in the 16th century through the present. Attached to some of the names, but also quite independent elements in themselves, jaques the nine themes that this book presents: The book is really a marvel and easily years of a lifelong love of learning is poured into this cultural history masterpiece by Barzun – this is really his life’s work and all of his learning along with the touch of a brilliant mind really inspired me.

The age of entropy

If one looks at the bibliography, it is stunning that any one person could have accessed all this knowledge. Of course, philosophy and politics and economics appear too.

Ironically, this is the sort of shortcut literary and intellectual technique pioneered in glossy magazines of the sort that Barzun contemptuously dismisses as decadent, and without merit.

Want to Read saving…. This Book Is 11, Pages Long After having read Jacques Barzun’s summa thirteen times, I have concluded that this book is not really pages long as it appears in the product details, but rather 11, pages. Who cares about the good intentions. But the book suffers from too broad a take, and Barzun’s own monarchist tendencies which make him sound dismissive and ridiculous.

Freud and psychoanalysis are not left out. How else to explain damning the rise of sports professionalism while defending Surrealist art? The greatest value is his intricate knowledge of an endl A book to read with your pinky out. Barzun has done a masterful job of delineating the threads of Western culture, showing how they relate to earlier trends, and how each new development contributes to the present scene in which we are both subjects and witnesses.


Decadence is not a slur, it is a technical term defined as: The 16th Century religious revolution known as the Protestant Reformation The 17th and 18th Century monarchical revolution represented by the English and the French civil wars The 19th Century liberal revolution that enthroned the individual and individualism represented by Evolution more definitions ensue in the sciences and Romanticism in the arts.

Thanks for telling us about the problem. In this later work Barzun divides the period in western cultural history into four large segments. Now, in the manner of a Sherlock Holmes, Barzun takes his time lighting his pipe, leans toward us over the map, and traces the routes through history to today in detail, again in a style all his own. But the thought is always prior to the fact; all the facts of history preexist in the mind as laws. In art we have progressed from epic hero to tragic hero to common hero to anti-hero.

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present

It is worth your time. These are intended to provide the flavor or the geist of bwrzun times. Then he turns into a raving conservative who pulls out random and extreme examples and uses them as “typical.

However this approach can sometimes be pedantic and bring conservative conclusions.