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From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (2000)

por Jacques Barzun

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3,756383,354 (4.1)63
"A stunning five-century study of civilization's cultural retreat."  -- William Safire, New York Times Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has set down in one continuous narrative the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500. Barzun describes what Western Man wrought from the Renaissance and Reformation down to the present in the double light of its own time and our pressing concerns. He introduces characters and incidents with his unusual literary style and grace, bringing to the fore those that have been forgotten or obscured. His compelling chapters--such as "Puritans as Democrats," "The Monarchs' Revolution," and "The Artist Prophet and Jester"--show the recurrent role of great themes throughout the era.   The triumphs and defeats of five hundred years form an inspiring saga that modifies the current impression of one long tale of oppression by white European males. Women and their deeds are prominent, and freedom (even in sexual matters) is not an invention of the last decades. And when Barzun rates the present not as a culmination but a decline, he is in no way a prophet of doom. Instead, he shows decadence as the normal close of great periods and a necessary condition of the creative novelty that will burst forth--tomorrow or the next day. Only after a lifetime of separate studies covering a broad territory could a writer create with such ease the synthesis displayed in this magnificent volume.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 38 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
This book filled in much of what I think I missed from not studying liberal arts. It's a lot to take in, but very worthwhile. ( )
  bballard74 | Feb 29, 2024 |
A fairly comprehensive look at the cultural history of the modern era. However his predictions for the future do not take into account the problems of ecological change, resource depletion or environmental degradation.
  ritaer | Jan 14, 2024 |
This book is a long read on the cultural history of the west, requiring nearly as much time to think about what the author says as to read it. It is one of the most insightful and thought-provoking books I've ever read. I had post-it flags throughout marking passages whose ideas I wanted to discuss with my husband. It is not a book I could read with distractions or when tired, and so it took me a while to finish, what with all the kids and all the work making me almost always distracted, tired, or both. After finishing, I'm actually a little sad to part from Jacques Barzun and his sharp mind and sharp tongue. Despite my long to-read list and the length and density of this book and the challenge of finding the time and mental energy for it, I fully expect to return to it, to reread parts or the whole, when I want to spend some time sitting around with a great mind with no patience for muddled thinking and intellectual laziness. ( )
1 vote z-bunch | Apr 14, 2023 |
To get the four stars you have to ignore the last 200 pages or so. His politics ,his cultural bias and his economics all stop the book cold and is kinda disappointing. ( )
  soraxtm | Apr 9, 2023 |
I read this several years ago, while Barzun trod the earth. Most of it is worth five stars. But there is a serious flaw. Barzun had no clue how science works. His anti-science attitude was sadly misdirected. His declared beef was in fact against a caricature of science and scientists, a cartoon fancy held by some people who haven't any idea how, for example, a radio works beyond the knobs on the front. Barzun appeared to be one of them. Thus his proper argument lay with his own bias; a paradox that he failed to divine.

Or perhaps he painted himself into a corner by his pretentious choice of book title and preferred a willful ignorance about the enormous value created throughout the 20th century in many domains. That effect may explain the poor reaction of many goodreads reviewers to the last part of the book.

I don't recall Barzun giving any recognition to scientists or science, or noticing the influence of science upon events and ideas, or of events and ideas upon science. An excellent remedy is "The Western Intellectual Tradition, from Leonardo to Hegel" by Jacob Bronowski and Bruce Mazlish, a balanced and very readable survey of the same subject by eminent scholars, solid five stars.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/455391.The_Western_Intellectual_Tradition_fr... ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Barzun, JacquesAutorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Cuéllar, JesúsTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Field, Nancy B.Designerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rodríguez Halffter, EvaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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"A stunning five-century study of civilization's cultural retreat."  -- William Safire, New York Times Highly regarded here and abroad for some thirty works of cultural history and criticism, master historian Jacques Barzun has set down in one continuous narrative the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500. Barzun describes what Western Man wrought from the Renaissance and Reformation down to the present in the double light of its own time and our pressing concerns. He introduces characters and incidents with his unusual literary style and grace, bringing to the fore those that have been forgotten or obscured. His compelling chapters--such as "Puritans as Democrats," "The Monarchs' Revolution," and "The Artist Prophet and Jester"--show the recurrent role of great themes throughout the era.   The triumphs and defeats of five hundred years form an inspiring saga that modifies the current impression of one long tale of oppression by white European males. Women and their deeds are prominent, and freedom (even in sexual matters) is not an invention of the last decades. And when Barzun rates the present not as a culmination but a decline, he is in no way a prophet of doom. Instead, he shows decadence as the normal close of great periods and a necessary condition of the creative novelty that will burst forth--tomorrow or the next day. Only after a lifetime of separate studies covering a broad territory could a writer create with such ease the synthesis displayed in this magnificent volume.

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