He pioneered a new kind of intellectual and cultural history that paid as much attention to emotions as it did to ideas. Schorske was born in the Bronx, New York. His father, Theodore, ran a savings bank for immigrants; together with his wife, Gertrude nee Goldschmidt , he was active in the settlement movement in New York , which helped newcomers find a home and build a new life for themselves. The family spoke German at home, but changed to English on the outbreak of the first world war. As pacifists, they were particularly affected by the hostility they sometimes encountered after the US entered the war. Shortly before the attack Pearl Harbor, he joined the research and analysis branch of the Office of Strategic Services precursor to the CIA , where he became chief of political intelligence for western Europe.
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A book can change a life; so, even, can a magazine article. Then a resident of the not particularly dreamlike metropolis of Washington, D. Its author, a towering figure in the academic world, died on September 13th, at the age of a hundred; more than a few remembrances attested to the mind-altering impact of his great collection of essays, which has shown generations of readers how even the most rarefied artistic creations are indivisible from social reality. No less important, Schorske overran the boundaries of specialist writing, pursuing the trajectories of figures from various disciplines: Freud, Otto Wagner, Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, Klimt, Schoenberg, Kokoschka.
I was captivated first by the cover —one of the most winning book covers ever made. The designer Fred Marcellino adapted it from a Klimt poster , following a suggestion made by Jeffrey Seroy, then an editorial assistant at Knopf. The Klimtian iconography of sphinxlike women amid cosmic glitter was less familiar in than it is today; blockbuster exhibitions of Viennese art had yet to travel the world.
I recall staring in uneasy fascination at black-and-white reproductions of paintings that Klimt created for the University of Vienna , depicting Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence. Naked figures writhe in viscous space; women gaze archly out of chaos; an emaciated male is on the verge of being devoured by an octopus.
Brown, he had employed Freudian theory to trace the psychological dynamics of Nazi Germany. Lueger was a slippery, pragmatic, un-Hitler-like politician; the so-called liberals, for their part, undermined democracy by opposing an expansion of the vote.
The invention of gay rights is a significant example of the latter. For one thing, he was too subtle a thinker to engage in the kind of normative, top-down discourse that his critics deplored. His chapter on two visionary Austrian architects—Camillo Sitte, who wished to revive the irregularity of medieval cities, and Otto Wagner, a forerunner of the International Style—is a study in unresolved paradoxes: Sitte, the tradition-minded Richard Wagner enthusiast, could be seen as the more contemporary figure, his emphasis on communal street life anticipating Jane Jacobs.
At the same time, there is no denying the eerie, prophetic quality of certain Viennese works of this period. Furthermore, Schorske made no pretense of producing a comprehensive history. Rather, he framed his book as the perspective of an interested American onlooker, one who saw parallels between late-imperial Vienna and Cold War America, where the defeat of New Deal values brought about an analogous radicalization and depoliticization of the artistic sphere.
When Schorske spoke of the failures of liberalism, he was thinking not only of German-speaking lands; as a professor at Berkeley, in the nineteen-sixties, he had defended the Free Speech Movement while Governor Pat Brown ordered mass arrests. A glance at the morning paper confirms that a semblance of democracy is no guarantee of a just society.
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Carl E Schorske obituary
Look Inside. A Pulitzer Prize Winner and landmark book from one of the truly original scholars of our time: a magnificent revelation of turn-of-the-century Vienna where out of a crisis of political and social disintegration so much of modern art and thought was born. Carl E. He returned… More about Carl E. Acknowledgments Introduction I. Explosions in the Garden: Kokoschka and Schoenberg Index. Schorske By Carl E.
Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture
Schorske and published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Partly reconstructed from Schorske's articles published in the American Historical Review , the book is structured into seven thematically interlocking chapters. Each chapter considers the interrelationships between key artists with the development of psychoanalysis and what was — at the time — viewed as an end of history. In the 'Introduction' the author claims that the text was born from his desire 'to construct a course in European intellectual history, designed to help students to understand the large, architectonic correlations between high culture and socio-political change' p. In his view, Vienna was a peculiar cultural environment due to the late ascendancy and early crisis of its liberal middle class between the s and the s.
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The Schorske Century
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