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Modernism: The Lure of Heresy - From Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond Paperback – 3 Dec 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (3 Dec. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099441969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099441960
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 290,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Beautifully written, wide-ranging and psychologically acute, Modernism: The Lure of Heresy is a celebration of the subversive energies that decisively transformed art and culture in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At once bracingly intelligent and elegiac, Gay's magisterial book is richly rewarding for anyone who wants to understand the fractured world we have all inherited" (Stephen Greenblatt)

"Superbly researched and well recounted. The extent to which many [modernists] "sold out" to their wealthy patrons, adopting the values they once scorned, makes for some engrossing reading" (Scotsman)

"Highly readable, well-illustrated...an intelligent and exciting account of creative individuals and the times in which they worked... An enormous achievement" (New Statesman)

"An exhaustive and lively summary" (James Urquhart Financial Times)

"Written... with a polymathematical verve which carried me with him to the end" (Nicholas Bagnall Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

A brilliant, provocative long essay on the rise and fall and survival of modernism, by the English-languages' greatest living cultural historian.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Nov. 2009
A stunningly ambitious history of the Modernism movement in art, literature, music and architecture by American cultural historian Peter Gay provides a compelling synthesis to the myriad of strands of the Modernist movement that will be essential reading for A level and undergraduate students as well as providing interest for the more casual reader.

It is impossible not to be impressed by the sheer scope of the cultural historian Peter Gay's 2007 study of Modernism, newly released in this paperback edition. He notes in the introduction that it is not a `comprehensive history' but rather `a study of its rise, triumphs, and decline'. What is remarkable though, is the attempt to include the whole gamut of artistic fields in this coherent study.

The Modernism movement, broadly ranging from the mid 19th century to the end of the 20th century, encompassed many varied trends, but Gay defines the underlying moves behind these as a duel `lure of heresy' (the drive to be different and to challenge convention) as well as a tendency towards self-scrutiny. Ironically for the topic, his approach is entirely conventional - he begins with a definition, moves to general themes before considering each major area (art and sculpture; literature; music and dance; architecture; drama and movies), coverage of the cultural and political environment and concludes with considerations of the decline of these movements.

Although it's easy to pick holes in the coverage in this vast range, I was surprised to see little attention to photography or to the work of Brecht in theatre, but everyone will have their own views on what could have been included.

So who is this book aimed at?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kim on 28 April 2013
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Wow! I got this paperback book from Amazon for about £7.00 - the price of two cups of coffee and a bar of chocolate at a motorway service station - and by the time I'd reached the end of the first section, had ordered a first edition hardback because I knew it was going to be one of my favourite books.
You could ask whether it is sensible to treat modernism in architecture, painting, literature, music and film as somehow instances of the same phenomenon, and whether "the lure of heresy" is really it. You might wonder whether it makes sense to rubbish pop artists as "journalists" whilst holding Magritte to be a respectable modernist. No doubt we will all have bones to pick with the author, in reading a book with such a wide scope as this one. But this is a terrific read, and highly informative. I love it. After the main text there are 100 pages of extras, including notes and a bibliographic essay, so you can check out points of interest. Great!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Krapp on 30 Sept. 2012
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I bought this recently, and considering the quality of Gay's study, and it's far-reaching and measured studies of the multifarious forms and manifestations of modernism, it was money very well spent. Indubitably the best book on Modernism I have yet encountered, and also, markedly, the cheapest of those books I have bought. A must-buy if you are considering buying a critical study Modernism.
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Lots of detail and background research make a fascinating text. A sense of humour and a critical perspective add to the impact.
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