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Beyond the Tragic Vision: The Quest for…

Beyond the Tragic Vision: The Quest for Identity in the Nineteenth Century (1962)

by Morse Peckham

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This book is an attempt to find the central nerve of nineteenth-century culture, to discover the problem which unifies the most important cultural documents in the century's philosophy, literature, painting and music. The author sketches how, with the collapse of the Enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century, it became necessary for the individual to derive order, meaning and value from his own identity rather from the objective world. Professor Peckham sees four stages in the nineteenth century's effort to solve the problem of finding a ground for human identity: the period of discovery and analogy from man to nature (sometimes called Romanticism), the period of Transcendentalism, the period of Objectism (sometimes, though less inclusively, called Realism or Naturalism), and the period of Stylism (sometimes inadequately called Aestheticism). At the end of this process, Nietzsche asserted that human identity exists but has no grounds in nature or the divine. This enabled him to do what the nineteenth century above all wished to do: to recognise the reality of human life in the contraries and opposites of human experience without falsifying them by comfortable but illusory reconciliation.… (more)



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...rejoice in the midst of tragedy. --W.B. Yeats
To the memory of my parents
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The long intellectual struggle to define a culture, to circumscribe a society by definition, to set up rules to govern the use of such phrases as 'socio-cultural entity,' has produced no widely accepted result.
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