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Art and Life in Modernist Prague
 
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Art and Life in Modernist Prague
Karel Čapek and his Generation, 1911-1938
 
 
Palgrave Macmillan
 
 
 
 
 
14 May 2013
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£55.00
|Hardback In Stock
  
9780230113626
||
 
 
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DescriptionReviewsContentsAuthors

In most histories of Europe before the First World War, modern life in Habsburg Mitteleuropa takes on a decidedly gloomy cast. Centering on Vienna in the twilight years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such accounts describe the failure of rationalism and the rise of a dangerous politics of fantasy. This book tells a different story, highlighting a generation of Czech writers and artists distinguished by their affirmative encounter with the modern world in the first decades of the twentieth century. Novelist and playwright Karel Čapek, along with other members of his cohort, embraced the possibilities of the post-Habsburg era. Tracing the roots of Čapek's generation to cubist art and turn-of-the-century philosophy, author Thomas Ort shows that the form of modernism they championed led not into the thickets of fascism or communism but in fact closer to liberal political ideals.


Description

In most histories of Europe before the First World War, modern life in Habsburg Mitteleuropa takes on a decidedly gloomy cast. Centering on Vienna in the twilight years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such accounts describe the failure of rationalism and the rise of a dangerous politics of fantasy. This book tells a different story, highlighting a generation of Czech writers and artists distinguished by their affirmative encounter with the modern world in the first decades of the twentieth century. Novelist and playwright Karel Čapek, along with other members of his cohort, embraced the possibilities of the post-Habsburg era. Tracing the roots of Čapek's generation to cubist art and turn-of-the-century philosophy, author Thomas Ort shows that the form of modernism they championed led not into the thickets of fascism or communism but in fact closer to liberal political ideals.


Reviews

"Ort's text should be of interest to students not only of Slavic literature and history but of European modernism in general. Summing Up: Highly recommended." - CHOICE
 
"Thomas Ort is a pleasure to read... his writing is lucid and unpretentious." - Times Literary Supplement 
 
"Karel Čapek still has not received the attention he deserves in the Anglo-American world, and Czechoslovakia still has not been fully assimilated into our picture of interwar Europe. Thomas Ort accomplishes both tasks beautifully by integrating Čapek's generation into the intellectual history of twentieth-century Europe. Ort is fascinated by the way the mind gives order to the world, and he describes a generation preoccupied with the relationship between creative life and the fixity of forms. Full of compelling ideas and formulations, this book will be valuable for students of history, art, and literature—and for anyone who wants to understand the early twentieth century." - David S. Luft, Horning Professor in the Humanities and Professor of History, Oregon State University, USA

"This is an important, judicious, and lucidly written contribution to the growing field of Central European modernism. Thomas Ort's compelling portrait of Czech artistic life before and after World War I adds important new insight into the interconnections between aesthetics and politics during this turbulent period." - Mary Gluck, Professor of History, Brown University, USA

"Elegantly written and thoughtfully argued, Art and Life in Modernist Prague challenges long-standing assumptions about fin-de-siècle culture, interwar Czechoslovakia, and early-twentieth-century liberalism. Strengthened, not weakened, by World War I, Karel Čapek's liberal variety of modernism may have come to a brutal end in 1938, yet it remains one the most innovative - and underappreciated - cultural projects of his time. This outstanding book will surely become a must-read for scholars of Habsburg Central Europe and modern European thought alike." - Chad Bryant, Associate Professor of History, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA


Contents

1. Prague 1911: The Cubist City
2. Between Life and Form: Karel Čapek and the Prewar Modernist Generation
3. The Lessons of Life: Karel Čapek and the First World War
4. Art ≠ Life: The 'Čapek Generation' and Devětsil in Interwar Czechoslovakia
5. The Self as Empty Space and Crowd: Karel Čapek and the Czechoslovak Condition


Authors

Thomas Ort is Assistant Professor of History at Queens College-City University of New York, USA.