The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-1973

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9780691146393: The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-1973

In a midcentury American cultural episode forgotten today, intellectuals of all schools shared a belief that human nature was under threat. The immediate result was a glut of dense, abstract books on the "nature of man." But the dawning "age of the crisis of man," as Mark Greif calls it, was far more than a historical curiosity. In this ambitious intellectual and literary history, Greif recovers this lost line of thought to show how it influenced society, politics, and culture before, during, and long after World War II. During the 1930s and 1940s, fears of the barbarization of humanity energized New York intellectuals, Chicago protoconservatives, European Jewish emigres, and native-born bohemians to seek "re-enlightenment," a new philosophical account of human nature and history. After the war this effort diffused, leading to a rebirth of modern human rights and a new power for the literary arts. Critics' predictions of a "death of the novel" challenged writers to invest bloodless questions of human nature with flesh and detail. Hemingway, Faulkner, and Richard Wright wrote flawed novels of abstract man. Succeeding them, Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, Flannery O'Connor, and Thomas Pynchon constituted a new guard who tested philosophical questions against social realities-race, religious faith, and the rise of technology-that kept difference and diversity alive. By the 1960s, the idea of "universal man" gave way to moral antihumanism, as new sensibilities and social movements transformed what had come before. Greif's reframing of a foundational debate takes us beyond old antagonisms into a new future, and gives a prehistory to the fractures of our own era.

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Recensione:

One of Flavorwire’s 10 Must-Read Academic Books for 2015

"An important book, a brilliant book, an exasperating book. . . . In The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-1973, the gifted essayist Mark Greif, who reveals himself to be also a skillful historian of ideas, charts the history of the 20th-century reckonings with the definition of 'man.'" --Leon Wieseltier, New York Times Book Review

"[ The Age of the Crisis of Man is] a brilliant contribution to the history of ideas, one of the rare books that reshapes the present by reinterpreting the past." --Adam Kirsch, Tablet

"'One of the striking features of the discourse of man to modern eyes, in a sense the most striking, is how unreadable it is, how tedious, how unhelpful. The puzzle is why it is unreadable.' Thus, Mark Greif in his exhilarating study The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America 1933-1973. By 'the discourse of man' Greif means the vast midcentury literature on human dignity, from Being and Nothingness, to the 'Family of Man' photo exhibition, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights--a discourse that Greif interrogates with verve, erudition, sympathy, and suspicion, and that he follows into the fiction of our time." --Lorin Stein, Paris Review

"[ The Age of the Crisis of Man] works to uncover a major discourse in American letters, a largely postwar dialogue about the human (or posthuman) condition. It's a formidable project on Greif's part, one that could change the story we tell about intellectual politics in the 20th century." --Jonathan Sturgeon, Flavorwire

"[ The Age of the Crisis of Man is] an ambitious look at political thought in the 20th century, and how that thought was reflected in the work of several notable American writers. Greif focuses primarily on four--Flannery O'Connor, Ralph Ellison, Thomas Pynchon, and Saul Bellow--but what emerges is a complex portrait of a literary culture, and the theories that informed it." --Tobias Carroll, Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"The mastery on display here--the sheer diversity of thinkers explored--is staggering. Some of them will no doubt be familiar to you: Adorno, Jaspers, Foucault, Arendt. Others might prove a little fuzzier: Mortimer Adler, Shulamith Firestone, Sidney Hook. All are deftly woven into the fabric of crisis discourse--both the juicy rivalries and strange bedfellows--often with dazzling results. . . . A tour de force." --Dustin Illingworth, Brooklyn Rail

"[O]ne of the most accessibly intelligent and provocative looks at a fascinating period in American intellectual life. Read it, if only for Greif's exploration of white Americans' appropriation of the phrase 'The Man.' But also read it for so much more; it will stay with you for a long time." --Kristin Iversen, Brooklyn Magazine

"Greif's book is fascinating and rich. . . . The strength of the book is that although I disagree with much of what he says about the general position his readings of the novelists are engaging, lucid, attractively fresh and critically astute. So if you disagree with my views you should still read the book, and if you agree with me you should too." --Richard Marshall, 3AM Magazine

"What is Man? What, if anything, is fundamental in human nature? . . . In this far-ranging, erudite survey, Mark Greif sets out not to answer these questions but to trace why and how they were asked and answered in mid-20th century America. . . . [T]his is a learned exploration of an important debate, which still reverberates in many forms today." --Francesca Wade, Prospect Magazine

"[W]ith this brilliant book Greif is restarting the project of 're-enlightenment,' pointing us toward . . . the spiritual daylight of the present--where literary purposes and political agendas are moments on an intellectual continuum, not the terms of an either/or choice." --James Livingston, Bookforum

"[I]lluminating of the intellectual situation Greif and all of us inhabit. . . . Greif's conclusion: . . . know your past, for sure; know that people have tried things that didn't pan out; know your way about contemporary theory, but wear that knowledge lightly; and, most of all, remain playful." --Kevin Mattson, Boston Review

L'autore:

Mark Greif is assistant professor of literary studies at the New School. He is a founder and editor of the journal n+1.

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. 236 x 165 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In a midcentury American cultural episode forgotten today, intellectuals of all schools shared a belief that human nature was under threat. The immediate result was a glut of dense, abstract books on the nature of man. But the dawning age of the crisis of man, as Mark Greif calls it, was far more than a historical curiosity. In this ambitious intellectual and literary history, Greif recovers this lost line of thought to show how it influenced society, politics, and culture before, during, and long after World War II. During the 1930s and 1940s, fears of the barbarization of humanity energized New York intellectuals, Chicago protoconservatives, European Jewish emigres, and native-born bohemians to seek re-enlightenment, a new philosophical account of human nature and history. After the war this effort diffused, leading to a rebirth of modern human rights and a new power for the literary arts. Critics predictions of a death of the novel challenged writers to invest bloodless questions of human nature with flesh and detail. Hemingway, Faulkner, and Richard Wright wrote flawed novels of abstract man. Succeeding them, Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, Flannery O Connor, and Thomas Pynchon constituted a new guard who tested philosophical questions against social realities--race, religious faith, and the rise of technology--that kept difference and diversity alive. By the 1960s, the idea of universal man gave way to moral antihumanism, as new sensibilities and social movements transformed what had come before. Greif s reframing of a foundational debate takes us beyond old antagonisms into a new future, and gives a prehistory to the fractures of our own era. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780691146393

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. 236 x 165 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In a midcentury American cultural episode forgotten today, intellectuals of all schools shared a belief that human nature was under threat. The immediate result was a glut of dense, abstract books on the nature of man. But the dawning age of the crisis of man, as Mark Greif calls it, was far more than a historical curiosity. In this ambitious intellectual and literary history, Greif recovers this lost line of thought to show how it influenced society, politics, and culture before, during, and long after World War II. During the 1930s and 1940s, fears of the barbarization of humanity energized New York intellectuals, Chicago protoconservatives, European Jewish emigres, and native-born bohemians to seek re-enlightenment, a new philosophical account of human nature and history. After the war this effort diffused, leading to a rebirth of modern human rights and a new power for the literary arts. Critics predictions of a death of the novel challenged writers to invest bloodless questions of human nature with flesh and detail. Hemingway, Faulkner, and Richard Wright wrote flawed novels of abstract man. Succeeding them, Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, Flannery O Connor, and Thomas Pynchon constituted a new guard who tested philosophical questions against social realities--race, religious faith, and the rise of technology--that kept difference and diversity alive. By the 1960s, the idea of universal man gave way to moral antihumanism, as new sensibilities and social movements transformed what had come before. Greif s reframing of a foundational debate takes us beyond old antagonisms into a new future, and gives a prehistory to the fractures of our own era. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780691146393

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Descrizione libro Princeton University Press. Hardback. Condizione libro: new. BRAND NEW, The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-1973, Mark Greif, In a midcentury American cultural episode forgotten today, intellectuals of all schools shared a belief that human nature was under threat. The immediate result was a glut of dense, abstract books on the "nature of man." But the dawning "age of the crisis of man," as Mark Greif calls it, was far more than a historical curiosity. In this ambitious intellectual and literary history, Greif recovers this lost line of thought to show how it influenced society, politics, and culture before, during, and long after World War II. During the 1930s and 1940s, fears of the barbarization of humanity energized New York intellectuals, Chicago protoconservatives, European Jewish emigres, and native-born bohemians to seek "re-enlightenment," a new philosophical account of human nature and history. After the war this effort diffused, leading to a rebirth of modern human rights and a new power for the literary arts. Critics' predictions of a "death of the novel" challenged writers to invest bloodless questions of human nature with flesh and detail. Hemingway, Faulkner, and Richard Wright wrote flawed novels of abstract man. Succeeding them, Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, Flannery O'Connor, and Thomas Pynchon constituted a new guard who tested philosophical questions against social realities--race, religious faith, and the rise of technology--that kept difference and diversity alive. By the 1960s, the idea of "universal man" gave way to moral antihumanism, as new sensibilities and social movements transformed what had come before. Greif's reframing of a foundational debate takes us beyond old antagonisms into a new future, and gives a prehistory to the fractures of our own era. Codice libro della libreria B9780691146393

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