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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It is a little like undertaking War and Peace without those beloved characters; it is more like reading a college text.

Jacques Barzun historian biography From Dawn to Decadence review

The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Even in the concluding chapter, Watson continued to stuff in with information.

Part two opens with the ascent of Louis XIV and the rise of the nation state; it ends with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Especially the th centuries are so connected that I am scarcely aware of the flow of time.

With scarcely a dull moment or uninteresting subject over the course of some nine hundred pages and five hundred years, this magnificent achievement in western history from a conservative viewpoint reaches for the stars and comes awfully close to brushing them.

The author tells the emotional, passionate and intuitive story from the s to As an example, painting developed a technically brilliant near photo-realism that was impressive but lifeless, and just repeated the same classical tropes over and over. Far better would the book have been had Barzun been more focused and detailed, choosing better examples, rather than trying to overwhelm the reader with his nine decades of learning.

From Dawn to Decadence covers a year period from roughly the Renaissance – the so-called reborn of the Western Civilization – until the end of 20th century, which Barzun considers as its very Decadence. Feb 19, Vlad Golovach rated it it was amazing Shelves: Just a few examples: When I saw this book at the used bookstore, I was intrigued because of the topic and the great deal! Tomando una de tantas ideas que vierte el autor quisiera plasmar su concepto sobre la labor de la historia: Indeed, Barzun’s conversation with his reader repeatedly affirms that the the best of western culture is beautiful and rational even in the face of the uncertainty, incompleteness, alienation and relativity that arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


The best book I have ever read in this year and for the last 20 years i.

Dan Schneider on Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn To Decadence

In Olivier’s film, the play jaxques called “the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind. Book reviews and criticism Get the book!

These hold the page work together in what otherwise could be a confusing amount of information. Decadennce to scientific concepts are inept. This is fine writing by a powerful and opinionated mind. Jan 06, Clif rated it really liked it. Read it a thirteenth time and you will agree that it barzkn among the world’s greatest cultural treasures.

Its features useful typographic conventions, such as the use of SmallCaps for themes such as primitivism, in-line references to other pages discussing related topics, index of personages. In short, Diamond had a great idea, and Boorstin the writerly gift to excite.

It is a rigorous and rewarding read.

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

When I think of the state of education in the United States at present, while knowing that I am ignorant of many of the things Barzun mentions, I wonder where the audience for this book is will be and what will happen to the history jacquees to Barzun is so fascinating but to most people is completely unknown.

I suspect this book’s audience knows itself. Still, many other things I find acceptable in this current period are quite condemned by Barzun. Yet, he seems to have no qualms about censuring modernists of the day and going so far as to call secadence “bigoted. After all, “since unfitness meant freedom” — freedom from the suffocation of a regulatory society — “conventions should be defied, notably those classes as manners He instead, just as I wish, rather draws out maps and “generalities” from the periods, adding here and there some spotlights for illustrations, highlights, or exceptions.


Many under-appreciated and under-reported authors and thinkers are dutifully represented, and this is highly laudable, but occasionally the author really goes too far, and in such cases the narrative becomes a dull list of unknown authors and books that are only very succinctly described, that are forgotten as soon as the reader turns the page, and that add absolutely nothing to the value of the jacwues story.

In fact, he is so witty and he features in his book so many witty figures, that after reading the book, I am convinced that wittiness is the best and most attractive quality can ever be found in man.

The age of entropy

Sometimes such views were a tad jaundiced, but it has always been hard to dismiss the views of someone who has seen so much of life. I have long found the period between the end of the American Civil War and the most fertile, fervent, and fascinating period of history, and Barzun’s map reveals why in the detailed landscape of this period.

He can neither ignore the range of forces that propel the evolvements of ideas. He takes us down side trails that connect crom disparate elements of culture, such as Bach and the rise of National Socialism or street gangs and Andy Warhol, bringing together facts that are normally compartmentalized, separated, and sorted, and giving us, throughout, his own knowledgeable assessment.