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A Degenerate World

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Jerzy Jedlicki

Edited By Elena Rozbicka

Modernism and pessimism seem to go hand in hand. What are the sources of the historical pessimism we see in the legions of writers and thinkers over the past three centuries who saw modern civilization as degenerate and despicable, happily marching to its own doom? Why did so many educated and intelligent people despise the innovations that were the work of their contemporaries? This book focuses on English and Polish thought during the 19 th and early 20 th centuries, a time of relative political stability and great success in science and industry, when many nevertheless voiced concern that Europe is moving in the wrong direction, to its own destruction. After WWI, these warnings became even more dire and have left their mark on the European culture of our times.
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Chapter 1. Three Centuries of Desperation: The Origins of the Idea of a Crisis of European Civilisation

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La crise de l’esprit, La crise de l’Occident, The Crisis of Our Age, Crise de civilisation, A Crisis of Values, Die Krisis der europäischen Kultur, Die Krisis der europäischen Menschentums und die Philosophie, Kryzys i filozofia (Crisis and Philosophy), Kryzys myślenia (The Crisis of Thought), Kryzys nowoczesności a świat przeżywany (The Crisis of Modernity and the World as Experienced), Kritik und Krise: Ein Beitrag zur Pathogenese der būrgerlichen Welt, Freud and the Crisis of our Culture, Thomas Mann und die Krise der būrgerlichen Kultur, Robert Musil and the Crisis of European Culture, Intelektualiści a kryzys (Intellectuals and Crisis), Kryzys świadomości europejskiej w eseistyce polskiej (A Crisis of the European Consciousness as Reflected in Polish Essays)

This is but a handful of titles from my bibliographical box. But even stronger words are used in other such titles – just to quote a sample:

The Decay of Capitalistic Civilization, Der Untergang des Abendlandes, Upadek cywilizacji zachodniej, Déclin de l’Europe, Koniec Europy (The End of Europe), Konets nashego vremeni (The End of our Times), L’Europe et le mythe du decline, Decadence in the Modern World, The End of the Modern World, Degeneration: the Dark Side of Progress, Cywilizacja na ławie oskarżonych (Civilisation in the Dock), The Revolt against Civilization, The Apocalypse of History, Apocalypse 2000: Economic Breakdown and the Suicide of Democracy.

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