The Anatomy of Despondency

European Socio-Cultural Criticism 1789–1939


Socio-cultural criticism is the continuous assessment and evaluation of developments within democratic society and hence a vital ingredient of democracy itself. Departing from the French Revolution, this study focuses upon a tradition of European criticism. On the whole, critics accepted that technological advance was irreversible but they opposed the assumption that this implied general progress. Instead, they stressed the negatives: class conflict, erosion of tradition, mechanization of life, fragmentation of society, loss of cultural differentiation. The approach is exclusively text-orientated. The result is a multi-coloured mosaic depicting an image of what has moved, confused or dismayed the European mind over a period of a century and a half. The intensity of concern has shaped our contemporary thought, awareness and outlook.

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Jaap Harskamp, Ph.D. (1976) in Comparative Literature, University of Amsterdam, is Curator of the Dutch/Flemish Collections in the British Library and Honorary Research Fellow at University College London. His work has been widely published on the Continent and in the UK.
Preface 15
Introduction 17
Chapter One Aspects of Physiognomy 29
Chapter Two Disintegration 111
Chapter Three The Democratic Way 175
Chapter Four Man and Machinery 229
Chapter Five Money and Commerce 271
Chapter Six Ideological Confusion 293
Chapter Seven Ends and Means 351
Chapter Eight Threats to the Individual 383
Chapter Nine Devitalization 449
Chapter Ten Psychological Traits 515
Chapter Eleven Art and Alienation 599
Chapter Twelve Past, Present, Future 647
Chapter Thirteen Europe: Divisions and Dilemmas 733
Biographical Author Index 799
Name Index 877
Those interested in European intellectual and cultural history, in philosophy and crisis psychology, in the concept and development of European unity, or in early British and Continental constructs of America.
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