Daniel B. Schwartz Named Co-Winner of 2012 Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize

Daniel B. Schwartz – The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image
Co-Winner of the 2012 Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize, American Academy for Jewish Research

The American Academy for Jewish Research is pleased to announce the winners of its annual Salo Baron Prize for the best first book in Jewish studies published in 2012…The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image [is a] commanding piece of intellectual history that traces the image of Spinoza in a number of different geo-cultural contexts. The prize committee found Schwartz’s authoritative grasp of each of them, from Spinoza’s own time, to eighteenth-century Germany, nineteenth-century East Central Europe, and twentieth-century Palestine, truly remarkable for a scholar for whom this is a first book. The book rests on careful and precise terminological apparatus, as well as on a graceful and compelling writing style.

The Baron Prize honors the memory of the distinguished historian Salo W. Baron, a long-time president of the AAJR, who taught at Columbia University for many decades. It is…one of the signal honors that can be bestowed on a young scholar in Jewish studies and a sign of the excellence, vitality, and creativity in the field.

The First Modern JewPioneering biblical critic, theorist of democracy, and legendary conflater of God and nature, Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was excommunicated by the Sephardic Jews of Amsterdam in 1656 for his “horrible heresies” and “monstrous deeds.” Yet, over the past three centuries, Spinoza’s rupture with traditional Jewish beliefs and practices has elevated him to a prominent place in genealogies of Jewish modernity. The First Modern Jew provides a riveting look at how Spinoza went from being one of Judaism’s most notorious outcasts to one of its most celebrated, if still highly controversial, cultural icons, and a powerful and protean symbol of the first modern secular Jew.

Ranging from Amsterdam to Palestine and back again to Europe, the book chronicles Spinoza’s posthumous odyssey from marginalized heretic to hero, the exemplar of a whole host of Jewish identities, including cosmopolitan, nationalist, reformist, and rejectionist. Daniel Schwartz shows that in fashioning Spinoza into “the first modern Jew,” generations of Jewish intellectuals–German liberals, East European maskilim, secular Zionists, and Yiddishists–have projected their own dilemmas of identity onto him, reshaping the Amsterdam thinker in their own image. The many afterlives of Spinoza are a kind of looking glass into the struggles of Jewish writers over where to draw the boundaries of Jewishness and whether a secular Jewish identity is indeed possible. Cumulatively, these afterlives offer a kaleidoscopic view of modern Jewish cultureand a vivid history of an obsession with Spinoza that continues to this day.

Daniel B. Schwartz is assistant professor of history at George Washington University.

Jeremy Adelman’s “Worldly Philosopher” One of Financial Times Econ Books of 2013

Jeremy Adelman – Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman
One of Financial Times (Alphachat)’s Econ Books of the Year for 2013

Diane Coyle and Tyler Cowen of Alphachat, a podcast of Financial Times Alphaville, listed their top picks for economic books published in 2013. They both placed Worldly Philosopher:The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman at the top of their lists of five books.

Worldly PhilosopherWorldly Philosopher chronicles the times and writings of Albert O. Hirschman, one of the twentieth century’s most original and provocative thinkers. In this gripping biography, Jeremy Adelman tells the story of a man shaped by modern horrors and hopes, a worldly intellectual who fought for and wrote in defense of the values of tolerance and change.

Born in Berlin in 1915, Hirschman grew up amid the promise and turmoil of the Weimar era, but fled Germany when the Nazis seized power in 1933. Amid hardship and personal tragedy, he volunteered to fight against the fascists in Spain and helped many of Europe’s leading artists and intellectuals escape to America after France fell to Hitler. His intellectual career led him to Paris, London, and Trieste, and to academic appointments at Columbia, Harvard, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He was an influential adviser to governments in the United States, Latin America, and Europe, as well as major foundations and the World Bank. Along the way, he wrote some of the most innovative and important books in economics, the social sciences, and the history of ideas.

Throughout, he remained committed to his belief that reform is possible, even in the darkest of times.

This is the first major account of Hirschman’s remarkable life, and a tale of the twentieth century as seen through the story of an astute and passionate observer. Adelman’s riveting narrative traces how Hirschman’s personal experiences shaped his unique intellectual perspective, and how his enduring legacy is one of hope, open-mindedness, and practical idealism.

Jeremy Adelman is the Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor of Spanish Civilization and Culture and director of the Council for International Teaching and Research at Princeton University. His books include Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the World and Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton)

T.J. Clark to Speak in London Kings Place

picassoAt the Kings Place (90 York Way, London, N1 9AG) on October 5th at 3:30 PM, internationally acclaimed art historian T.J. Clark will be explaining how his new book Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica establishes Picasso as the artist of the 20th century, stripping away the gossip and the hero-worship. He takes us through the logic of his paintings as an account of modernity.

How did an art rooted in feeling for the human world react to an epoch of mass violence and social disintegration? Was Picasso’s imagery of horror an act of desperation, or a solution to an artistic and ethical impasse?

In what sense did the new extremism of Picasso’s art around 1930 lead on to the tragic vision of Guernica?

To learn more about the event at their website, click here.


T.J. Clark is an internationally acclaimed art historian, who has taught at UCLA, Leeds, Harvard and Berkeley.

He is the author of several books on the social character and formal dynamics of modern art, including the highly influential volume, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers, Farewell to an Idea, Episodes from a History of Modernism and The Sight of Death, An Experiment in Art Writing.

Strategy & Business Gives “Mass Flourishing” A Thumbs Up

Mass FlourishingTheodore Kinni of Strategy & Business reviewed Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change this week, saying:

“I…find his values-driven view of national prosperity fascinating—and applicable to corporate and personal prosperity. If innovation and the prosperity it yields stem from the values to which we subscribe as individuals, organizations, and nations, it stands to reason that we should be paying a great deal of attention to the particular values we adopt and espouse.”
― Theodore Kinni, Strategy-Business.com

To check out the full article, click here.
In this book, Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund Phelps draws on a lifetime of thinking to make a sweeping new argument about what makes nations prosper–and why the sources of that prosperity are under threat today. Why did prosperity explode in some nations between the 1820s and 1960s, creating not just unprecedented material wealth but “flourishing”–meaningful work, self-expression, and personal growth for more people than ever before? Phelps makes the case that the wellspring of this flourishing was modern values such as the desire to create, explore, and meet challenges. These values fueled the grassroots dynamism that was necessary for widespread, indigenous innovation. Most innovation wasn’t driven by a few isolated visionaries like Henry Ford; rather, it was driven by millions of people empowered to think of, develop, and market innumerable new products and processes, and improvements to existing ones. Mass flourishing–a combination of material well-being and the “good life” in a broader sense–was created by this mass innovation.

Yet indigenous innovation and flourishing weakened decades ago. In America, evidence indicates that innovation and job satisfaction have decreased since the late 1960s, while postwar Europe has never recaptured its former dynamism. The reason, Phelps argues, is that the modern values underlying the modern economy are under threat by a resurgence of traditional, corporatist values that put the community and state over the individual. The ultimate fate of modern values is now the most pressing question for the West: will Western nations recommit themselves to modernity, grassroots dynamism, indigenous innovation, and widespread personal fulfillment, or will we go on with a narrowed innovation that limits flourishing to a few?

A book of immense practical and intellectual importance, Mass Flourishing is essential reading for anyone who cares about the sources of prosperity and the future of the West.

Edmund Phelps was the 2006 Nobel Laureate in economics. He is director of the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University. His many books include Designing Inclusion, Rewarding Work, and Seven Schools of Macroeconomic Thought.

“Europe and the Islamic World” offers a crucial and poised evaluation of a momentous meeting

Europe and the Islamic World: A History is commended in a review by Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s first English-language newspaper founded in 1975:

Understanding complex ties between Muslim states, Europe

Lisa Kaaki
Wednesday 17 July 2013

This detailed history of Europe and the Islamic world is the latest of a series of attempts to understand the complex relations between Muslim countries and Europe. Co-authored by a trio of French historians, this book not only highlights the common roots between Islamic and Western cultures but it also maintains an impartial profile until the very end.

This history of Europe and the Islamic world is divided in three distinct parts. In the first five chapters, John Tolan tackles, “Saracens and Ifranj: Rivalries, Emulation, and Convergences.” In the second part, Gilles Veinstein introduces us to “The Great Turk and Europe” and Henry Laurens in the last part focuses on “Europe and the Muslim World in the Contemporary Period.”

John Esposito sets the tone of this scholarly work in his excellent foreword. Known for his objective and unbiased thinking, the American scholar presents a remarkable and clear summary of the book’s main points.

He is quick to underline the common political and religious struggle for power, waged by both, the West and Islam. The Muslims claim to have the final revelation threatened directly the role of Christianity to be: the only means to salvation. Moreover, Christendom also saw the rapid expansion of Islam as a “political and civilizational challenge to its religious and political hegemony.”

To view the rest of this article, head over to ArabNews.com:
http://www.arabnews.com/news/458230


Europe and the Islamic World: A History by John Tolan, Henry Laurens & Gilles VeinsteinEurope and the Islamic World sheds much-needed light on the shared roots of Islamic and Western cultures and on the richness of their inextricably intertwined histories, refuting once and for all the misguided notion of a “clash of civilizations” between the Muslim world and Europe. In this landmark book, three eminent historians bring to life the complex and tumultuous relations between Genoans and Tunisians, Alexandrians and the people of Constantinople, Catalans and Maghrebis–the myriad groups and individuals whose stories reflect the common cultural, intellectual, and religious heritage of Europe and Islam.

Since the seventh century, when the armies of Constantinople and Medina fought for control of Syria and Palestine, there has been ongoing contact between the Muslim world and the West. This sweeping history vividly recounts the wars and the crusades, the alliances and diplomacy, commerce and the slave trade, technology transfers, and the intellectual and artistic exchanges. Here readers are given an unparalleled introduction to key periods and events, including the Muslim conquests, the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, the commercial revolution of the medieval Mediterranean, the intellectual and cultural achievements of Muslim Spain, the crusades and Spanish reconquest, the rise of the Ottomans and their conquest of a third of Europe, European colonization and decolonization, and the challenges and promise of this entwined legacy today.

As provocative as it is groundbreaking, this book describes this shared history in all its richness and diversity, revealing how ongoing encounters between Europe and Islam have profoundly shaped both.

John Tolan is professor of history at the Université de Nantes. His books include Saracens and Saint Francis and the Sultan. Gilles Veinstein (1945-2013) was professor of history at the Collège de France. He is the author of Merchants in the Ottoman Empire. Henry Laurens is professor of history at the Collège de France. He is the author of L’empire et ses ennemis: La question impériale dans l’histoire.

Foreign Affairs magazine: “The Frankfurt School at War: The Marxists Who Explained the Nazis to Washington”

The Frankfurt School at War:
The Marxists Who Explained the Nazis to Washington
William E. Scheuerman

July/August 2013

Foreign Affairs: The Frankfurt School at War by William E. Scheuerman

The word “espionage” is written with Cyrillic letters on a typewriter. (Wolfgang Rattay / Courtesy Reuters)


Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort. by FRANZ NEUMANN, HERBERT MARCUSE, and OTTO KIRCHHEIMER. edited by RAFFAELE LAUDANI. Princeton University Press, 2013, 704 pp. $45.00.

War makes for strange bedfellows. Among the oddest pairings that World War II produced was the bringing together of William “Wild Bill” Donovan, head of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) — a precursor to the CIA — and a group of German Jewish Marxists he hired to help the United States understand the Nazis.

Donovan was a decorated veteran of World War I and a Wall Street lawyer linked to the Republican Party. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt tapped him to create the United States’ first dedicated nonmilitary intelligence organization. At that time, many in the foreign policy establishment saw intelligence and espionage as somewhat undignified, even unimportant. So Donovan cast a wide net, recruiting not only diplomats and professional spies but also film directors, mobsters, scholars, athletes, and journalists.

Even in that diverse group, Franz Neumann stood out. Neumann, a Marxist lawyer and political scientist, had fled Germany when the Nazis came to power in 1933. He arrived in the United States a few years later, where he was hailed as an expert on Nazi Germany after the 1942 publication of his book Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, which depicted Nazism as a combination of pathological, monopolistic capitalism and brutal totalitarianism. Neumann’s work brought him to the attention of Donovan, who was eager to mobilize relevant expertise regardless of its bearer’s political views.

To read the rest of this article, please refer to the Foreign Affairs website:
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139466/william-e-scheuerman/the-frankfurt-school-at-war?page=show


Secret Reports on Nazi Germany by Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse & Otto Kirchheimer
[F]ascinating. . . . [T]his new volume . . . conveniently collects a substantial chunk of the original documents penned by Neumann and his research team.”–William E. Scheuerman, Foreign Affairs 
 
“[A] fascinating collection. . . . The history of wartime intelligence is a developing field, and this material is a welcome addition.”–Library Journal
Secret Reports on Nazi Germany
Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse & Otto Kirchheimer
Edited by Raffaele Laudani
With a foreword by Raymond Geuss

During the Second World War, three prominent members of the Frankfurt School–Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, and Otto Kirchheimer–worked as intelligence analysts for the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime forerunner of the CIA. This book brings together their most important intelligence reports on Nazi Germany, most of them published here for the first time.

These reports provide a fresh perspective on Hitler’s regime and the Second World War, and a fascinating window on Frankfurt School critical theory. They develop a detailed analysis of Nazism as a social and economic system and the role of anti-Semitism in Nazism, as well as a coherent plan for the reconstruction of postwar Germany as a democratic political system with a socialist economy. These reports played a significant role in the development of postwar Allied policy, including denazification and the preparation of the Nuremberg Trials. They also reveal how wartime intelligence analysis shaped the intellectual agendas of these three important German-Jewish scholars who fled Nazi persecution prior to the war.

Secret Reports on Nazi Germany features a foreword by Raymond Geuss as well as a comprehensive general introduction by Raffaele Laudani that puts these writings in historical and intellectual context.

Franz Neumann (1900-1954) was a labor lawyer and political activist in Germany before the Nazi period, and was a professor of political science at Columbia University after his work in the OSS and at the Nuremberg Trials. Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a philosopher who made important contributions to the Frankfurt School critical theory of society. He taught at Brandeis and San Diego universities after his work in the OSS. Otto Kirchheimer (1905-1965) worked for the OSS until 1952. Later he was professor of political science at the New School for Social Research and Columbia. Raffaele Laudani is assistant professor of the history of political thought at the University of Bologna.

Derek Sayer “succeeds in doing what might have seemed at the beginning an impossible task,” according to Leonardo Reviews

Derek Sayer’s Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century, is warmly received by Jan Baetens of Leonardo Reviews:

Why Prague as ‘capital of the 20th Century’, and not Berlin, Tokyo, Los Angles, or, of course, New York? The answer that Derek Sayer, renowned specialist of Czech Modernism, gives to this question is multiple, but most crucial is here the symmetry he elaborates with Walter Benjamin’s landmark description of Paris, cultural capital of the 19th Century. Just as the Ville-Lumière could appear in Benjamin eyes‒and don’t we look all through his eyes nowadays?‒as the laboratory of 20th Century’s modernism, Prague may be the city that foreshadows the world in which we live today, a world that is less simply postmodern than the epitome of what Baudelaire defined as the landmark feature of all modernities ahead: “the ephemeral, the fleeting, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable” (“The Painter of Modern Life,” 1863). More than any other city in the (Western) world, Prague has become the symbol of that singular mix of constancy and instability that singles out modern as well as postmodern life. Much more than a city like New Work, Prague is deeply rooted in history, and much more than a city like Paris, this history is a never-ending chain of upheavals, turmoil, changes, revolutions, and destructions, in which the only certitude that remains can only be that of uncertainty itself.

Yet there is also a second reason to choose Prague as a new case in point for a Benjaminian revisiting of cultural history, in the very broad sense of the word bringing together art, politics, ideology, business, and daily life, combining both the well-known signposts of culture and the forgotten or despised details that only illuminated rag pickers are able to value. That reason is the necessity to rewrite a dramatically important chapter of history wiped out by post-iron curtain ideas on 20th Century modernism. Until the Second World War, Prague had been, indeed, one of the cradles of Surrealism, only second to Paris and, if not in depth than certainly in width, definitely more important than Brussels. Belgium may have had more radical avant-garde writers than Czechoslovakia (in comparison with Paul Nougé, the Nobel Prize winning Jaroslav Seifert will appear to many as a rather pale figure, for instance), and it may have hosted also more famous painters (needless to remind that Magritte has had a more lasting influence than his Czech colleagues), but Surrealism has pervaded the whole of culture and society more profoundly in the old kingdom of Bohemia than the country governed by King Albert I and King Leopold III, a country where Surrealism often narrowed down into softer, more user-friendly, sometimes almost petty-bourgeois forms, while Surrealism did never cease to have revolutionary undertones in Prague. Unfortunately, however, it is the fate of small countries and small cultures to be overlooked in history, which remains written and rewritten from the viewpoint of the global culture of the day. Hence, for instance, the complete neglect of Czech Surrealism in the show that has determined for many decades the US vision of modernity: William Rubin’s 1968 MOMA blockbuster retrospective “Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage”.

Read the complete review at Leonardo Reviews: http://leonardo.info/reviews/july2013/sayer-baetens.php


Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History by Derek SayerPrague, Capital of the Twentieth Century:
A Surrealist History

Derek Sayer

Setting out to recover the roots of modernity in the boulevards, interiors, and arcades of the “city of light,” Walter Benjamin dubbed Paris “the capital of the nineteenth century.” In this eagerly anticipated sequel to his acclaimed Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History, Derek Sayer argues that Prague could well be seen as the capital of the much darker twentieth century. Ranging across twentieth-century Prague’s astonishingly vibrant and always surprising human landscape, this richly illustrated cultural history describes how the city has experienced (and suffered) more ways of being modern than perhaps any other metropolis.

“[A] captivating portrait of 20th-century Prague. . . . The breadth of Sayer’s knowledge is encyclopedic, and those willing to stay the course will be rewarded.”–Publishers Weekly

Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century is an erudite, comprehensive, well-illustrated and witty account of Czech art, design, architecture, literature and music in an era–stretching roughly from Czechoslovakia’s creation in 1918 to the end of the second world war–when few in Paris, Berlin, London or even New York would have thought of the Czechs as not being part of western civilisation. . . . [I]n this book [Sayer] has succeeded in bringing back to life a golden avant-garde era that not long ago was in danger of being written out of history altogether.”–Tony Barber, Financial Times

“Italo Calvino – A Life” – Bristol Festival of Ideas hosts PUP authors this week

Calvino

Michael Wood and Martin McLaughlin will be speaking about their much anticipated new collection of Italo Calvino’s letters, Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985  at the Bristol Festival of Ideas this Wednesday 3rd July. The editors of this wonderful volume will discuss how they first came across Calvino, how they met and why they decided to edit this volume, the importance of the translation in how we interpret the letters, the selection and editing process, what they had to leave out, and the writing and the man himself.

The event will take place at Watershed Waterside 3 in Bristol at 7:45pm on 3rd July. For more information, or to order tickets, please visit the Festival of Ideas website.

Two for Tuesday – Auden and Picasso

W. H. Auden and Pablo Picasso were brilliant twentieth century artists creating images — one through poetry, and the other, through paintings. Princeton University Press is pleased to announce the publication of two new books focusing on their work.

audenFor the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio
W. H. Auden
Edited and with an introduction by Alan Jacobs

For the Time Being is a pivotal book in the career of one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. W. H. Auden had recently moved to America, fallen in love with a young man to whom he considered himself married, rethought his entire poetic and intellectual equipment, and reclaimed the Christian faith of his childhood. Then, in short order, his relationship fell apart and his mother, to whom he was very close, died. In the midst of this period of personal crisis and intellectual remaking, he decided to write a poem about Christmas and to have it set to music by his friend Benjamin Britten. Applying for a Guggenheim grant, Auden explained that he understood the difficulty of writing something vivid and distinctive about that most clichéd of subjects, but welcomed the challenge. In the end, the poem proved too long and complex to be set by Britten, but in it we have a remarkably ambitious and poetically rich attempt to see Christmas in double focus: as a moment in the history of the Roman Empire and of Judaism, and as an ever-new and always contemporary event for the believer. For the Time Being is Auden’s only explicitly religious long poem, a technical tour de force, and a revelatory window into the poet’s personal and intellectual development. This edition provides the most accurate text of the poem, a detailed introduction by Alan Jacobs that explains its themes and sets the poem in its proper contexts, and thorough annotations of its references and allusions.

Alan Jacobs is the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois. He previously edited Auden’s The Age of Anxiety for this series, and is the author of several books, including most recently The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction.

We invite you to read the Preface online: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/p9946.pdf

picassoPicasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica
T. J. Clark

Was Picasso the artist of the twentieth century? In Picasso and Truth, T. J. Clark uses his inimitable skills as art historian and writer to answer this question and reshape our understanding of Picasso’s achievement. Supported by more than 200 images, Clark’s new approach to the central figure of modern art focuses on Picasso after the First World War: his galumphing nudes of the early 1920s, the incandescent Guitar and Mandolin on a Table from 1924, Three Dancers done a year later, the hair-raising Painter and Model from 1927, the monsters and voracious bathers that follow, and finally–summing up but also saying farewell to the age of Cubism–the great mural Guernica.

Based on Clark’s A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, delivered at the National Gallery of Art, Picasso and Truth argues that the way to take Picasso’s true measure as an artist is to leave behind biography–the stale stories of lovers and hangers-on and suntans at the beach that presently constitute the “Picasso literature”–and try to follow the steps of his pictorial argument. As always with Clark, specific works of art hold center stage. But finding words for them involves thinking constantly about modern culture in general. Here the book takes Nietzsche as guide.

Is Picasso the artist Nietzsche was hoping for–the one come to cure us of our commitment to Truth? Certainly, as the dark central years of the twentieth century encroached, Picasso began to lose confidence in Cubism’s comprehensiveness and optimism. Picasso and Truth charts this shift in vivid detail, making it possible for us to see Picasso turn away from eyesight, felt proximity, and the ground of shared experience–the warmth and safety that Clark calls “room-space”–to stake everything on a glittering, baffling, unbelievable here and now. And why? Because the most modernity can hope for from art, Picasso’s new paintings seem to say, is a picture of the strange damaged world we have made for ourselves. In all its beauty and monstrosity.

T. J. Clark is George C. and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Art History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Painting of Modern Life (Princeton), The Sight of Death, and Farewell to an Idea, and the coauthor of (with “Retort”) Afflicted Powers.

We invite you to listen to an interview with T. J. Clark on BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves (22 minutes in).
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p019yny0

BOOK LAUNCH (June 10, 6:30 PM): Join Derek Sayer, Michael Beckerman, Jindřich Toman, and Peter Zusi for a discussion on Prague – the dark capital of the twentieth century

Derek Sayer‘s book Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History, will be released June 10, 2013 at 6:30 PM in The Masaryk Room at University College London. Dialogue with Sayer, Michael Beckerman (New York University), Jindrich Toman (University of Michigan Ann-Arbor), and Peter Zusi (University College London) celebrates the release of the book. Conversation will center around topics that stem from the controversial history of the Czech Republic’s capital and largest city.

Sayer has received praise for his analysis of Prague’s history, bringing to life not only the art and design of the city, but also a vivid account of Prague’s entire cultural background:

This is a fascinating and brilliantly written narrative that combines elements of literary guide, biography, cultural history, and essay. Writing with warm engagement, and drawing on his detailed knowledge of Czech literature, art, architecture, music, and other fields, Derek Sayer provides a rich picture of a dynamic cultural landscape.“–Jindrich Toman, University of Michigan

[A] captivating portrait of 20th-century Prague. . . . The breadth of Sayer’s knowledge is encyclopedic, and those willing to stay the course will be rewarded.“–Publishers Weekly

Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century is an erudite, comprehensive, well-illustrated and witty account of Czech art, design, architecture, literature and music in an era–stretching roughly from Czechoslovakia’s creation in 1918 to the end of the second world war–when few in Paris, Berlin, London or even New York would have thought of the Czechs as not being part of western civilisation. . . . [I]n this book [Sayer] has succeeded in bringing back to life a golden avant-garde era that not long ago was in danger of being written out of history altogether.“–Tony Barber, Financial Times

EVENT INFO:
Book launch and conversation: Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century?

Setting out to recover the dreamworlds of modernity in the boulevards, interiors, and arcades of the “city of light,” Walter Benjamin dubbed Paris “the capital of the nineteenth century.” With Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History (Princeton University Press) Derek Sayer christens a new global capital for a darker century. Michael Beckerman, Jindřich Toman, and Peter Zusi join him in conversation to celebrate the publication of the book.

A Conversation

Michael Beckerman (New York University)
Jindrich Toman (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor)
Derek Sayer (Lancaster University)
Peter Zusi (University College London)

All welcome – this event is free, no registration needed.
More info: p.zusi@ucl.ac.uk

Venue:

The Masaryk Room, 4th Floor, The School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, 16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW

Date:

10 Jun 2013 18:30

Organizer:

Czech Center is a co-organizer of the event.

For more information on this event, please visit the following page:
http://london.czechcentres.cz/programme/travel-events/derek-sayer-book-launch/

T J Clark at Bristol Festival of Ideas This Weekend

Clark author photo

T J Clark’s Picasso and Truth offers a breathtaking and original new look at the most significant artist of the modern era. This Saturday evening, T J Clark will be speaking about this important painter and his new book at a Bristol Festival of Ideas event.

Please click here if you would like to find out more about this event.

T J Clark will also be speaking at:

The London Review Bookshop on 28th May (sold out)

Hay Festival on 30th May

Birkbeck, University of London on 7th June (free entry)

and the London Lit Weekend on 5th October (stay tuned for more information)

Discovering Descartes

Descartes famously wrote “I am, I exist” and “I think, therefore I am.” But who was he? Kevin Hart of The Australian explores who the man behind these words was and the legacy that he left as described in Steven Nadler’s new book The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes.

Capturing the ‘am’ of a great thinker

MANY people will be familiar with the most familiar image of French philosopher Rene Descartes. It depicts the head and shoulders of a middle-aged man with long dark hair, a moustache and a small beard under his lip.

He has a starched white collar that is folded over a black coat in the manner of 17th-century Dutch burghers. A strong aquiline nose and eyes with lids that seem about to cover them mark a face that gazes out at us a little quizzically.

Frans Hals, the great Dutch painter, once had Descartes sit for him. Was the portrait lost? Or did he simply do something small and quick, a portrait composed of short, broad strokes of paint applied roughly? We do not know for sure about a lost, full portrait, but we know the small one because it hangs in a museum in Copenhagen, and has been copied many times.

Steven Nadler’s charming introduction to Descartes begins with an evocation of Hals’s portrait of the philosopher, and the whole book is itself an intimate portrait of the man and his times. More exactly, it tells the story of how the portrait came to be painted.

[Read the complete article at The Australian]