This book, and the excellent essays within, were the first to take Robert E. Howard and his work seriously and to consider Robert E. Howard a major literary figure.
It is a very big book indeed, coming to almost nine hundred pages with notes. But it is a wonderful read, summing up the learned and sometimes eccentric reflections of a scholar now ninety-three years old.
In all his masterful displaying of the ideas, philosophies, and artistic representations of reality that have captured minds and souls over these five hundred years, where does Jacques Barzun stand? What are the core convictions that anchor and direct his way of trying to make sense of the world of which we are part?
Answers are elusive, for he is sometimes coy, and he tries always to describe sympathetically intellectual and cultural movements of the most maddening diversity. From Dawn to Decadence is, as the title indicates, written in an argumentative mode but not in a confessional mode.
I do not mean just his aesthetic, moral, and intellectual judgments. The book is riddled with those, which is a large part of its charm. By a creed I mean the comprehensive belief or affirmation that undergirds the lifetime enterprise represented by this remarkable book.
The closest thing I could find to such a creed occurs on page in the context of his discussing the sundry existentialisms that produced the literature and theater of the Absurd associated with figures such as Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and Eugene Ionesco, and that a few decades ago exploded with such unhappy cultural and political effect through the writings of R.
Brown, and Herbert Marcuse. In an uncharacteristic tone of impatience, Barzun writes: However fitting for the times, the existentialist complaint seems puny. It laments because man must make his own goals within a universe that stays aloof.
Both are questionable assumptions. It can be argued that man and nature are one: And what man has made of the world, intellectually and materially, is his mission-chosen by him, it is true, but so universal that it is tantamount to fated, obligatory. Besides, how strange and unfriendly is nature?
It has of course no intentions, friendly or unfriendly; it does not even exist as an entity; it is a man-made construct from his experience and for his purposes. The sight of it often gives pure mindless joy.
What can be outside life? Only, it would seem, upper case Life.
He contrasts the Absurdists with earlier modernists, such as the Dadaists of Zurich in They, too, recognized and represented the absurd dimensions of existence, but they did not leave it at that; the absurd did not have the last word.
The distinction was implicit between Life and our life at the moment; and the new thought, the new art showed what Life demanded. Even the Stoics, who did not dance with joy at the idea of being alive, left life and the cosmos their validity. The Absurd marks a failure of nerve.
A failure of nerve to do what or to be what? And what man has made of the world, intellectually and materially, is his mission—chosen by him, it is true, but so universal that it is tantamount to fated, obligatory. And, although he is confoundedly reticent about it, there would seem to be no doubt that his devotion is sustained by the confidence that the project is in response to an obligation not entirely of its own creation.
As to what that obligation and the promise attending it might be, perhaps Prof.From time to time, I get a letter from some aspiring young writer, asking about how to write or how to get published.
My usual response is that the only way I know to become a good writer is to be a bad writer and keep on improving. Jan 01, · Barzun's suggestion that Decadence be opposed to Possibility is instructive. A decadent period doesn't mean people stop working, doing, making, imagining.
It means they lose faith, certainty in the possibilities of hope and progress. You can think of Decadence as a dialectical antithesis . Martin Van Buren / ˌ v æ n ˈ b j ʊ r ə n / (born Maarten Van Buren, December 5, – July 24, ) was the eighth President of the United States from to A founder of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the ninth Governor of New York, the tenth U.S.
Secretary of State, and the eighth Vice President of the United timberdesignmag.com won the presidential election with. André Bazin, film critic, theorist, philosopher, and humanist wrote a series of essays between the years and , before he died at the young age of Unlike Eisenstein, who wrote voluminously on montage and comparatively little on its antithesis, Bazin wrote substantially on montage.
Matthew Barzun is a descendant of Lucretia Mott, a proponent of women's rights, and John Winthrop, founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the city of Boston. His grandfather was the renowned French-born American cultural historian and former Columbia University professor, Jacques Barzun.
By Jacques Barzun. Harper & Row. $ One of the country’s greatest teachers (until his retirement from Columbia in ), Jacques Barzun is our most notable critic .