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Enlightenment Phantasies: Cultural Identity in France and Germany, 1750-1914 Hardcover – November 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801441447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801441448
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,082,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Mah's fresh and innovative analysis of the works of French and German intellectuals and artists in establishing at times intertwining cultural identities from 1750 to 1914 portrays these fantasies often dissolving into the opposites of the intended construction, where content becomes mere form or visual aesthetic imagery causes viewer displacement. . . . Highly recommended. College and university libraries."—Choice 41:10, June 2004

"Mah's . . . intelligent and provocative analysis and his close and careful reading of texts deepen our understanding of the nature of, and connections between, a variety of intellectual movements from the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century to the modernism of the twentieth."—Eric Davis, Canadian Journal of History, December 2004

"This well informed, fascinating and lucid dissection of contradictions and inconsistencies provides a stimulating approach to a range of debates and cultural products, firmly rooted in their historical context."—Peter Cogman, Modern and Contemporary France, Vol. 12, No. 4, 2004

"Harold Mah's pithy, elegant, and immensely stimulating book addresses what could be called the culture of ideas in the French and German Enlightenment. . . . The book develops like a piece of music, with chapters on language, aesthetics and history offering a series of increasingly complex variations on the opening motif. . . . Mah's intellectual history provides the immense service of foregrounding the role of imagination, desire, and fantasy in the history of ideas. It does so, moreover, both with rigor and without pretentiousness."—Sarah Maza, American Historical Review, 2005

"Mah's survey of the clashing views on societal and political processes is an impressive tour de force. . . . This is a splendid book, exhibiting a keen intelligence and marshalling an impressive variety of evidence. Both students of literature and students of intellectual history will find it stimulating."—Gerald Gillespie, Literary Research/Recherche litteraire, 2003

"This is, simply put, a wonderful book. Harold Mah has put post-structuralist theory to work more elegantly and more successfully than any historian I know. It is a highly learned book, intelligent and judicious at every turn—a major new statement about the meaning of the Enlightenment project after the end of the Cold War. Mah writes about extremely complex concepts with exceptional clarity and grace—at points his voice reaches the genuinely elegiac."—Carla Hesse, University of California, Berkeley

"Synthesizing twenty-five years of intensive study of Enlightened thought, this elegant deconstruction of proto-nationalist identities demonstrates that the most affirmative self-descriptions were in many ways idealized 'phantasies.' From the outset, Harold Mah argues, concepts such as civility, progress, and classical beauty were riddled with gender anxieties, fears of cultural decline or backwardness, and incompatible reformist demands. This innovative book urges both historians of France and of the German states to adopt a more complicated understanding of 'the Enlightenment,' one that will require the rethinking of nineteenth-century intellectual history as well."—Suzanne Marchand, Louisiana State University

"Harold Mah exposes many of the hidden ambiguities and unconscious contradictions that have been at the heart of modern French and German attempts to define each other and, in the process, themselves. Intellectually ambitious, interdisciplinary, and theoretically engaging, this book offers new insight into one of the great and enduring love-hate relationships of all time."—Robert Norton, University of Notre Dame --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

"This is, simply put, a wonderful book. Harold Mah has put post-structuralist theory to work more elegantly and more successfully than any historian I know. It is a highly learned book, intelligent and judicious at every turn—a major new statement about the meaning of the Enlightenment project after the end of the Cold War. Mah writes about extremely complex concepts with exceptional clarity and grace—at points his voice reaches the genuinely elegiac."—Carla Hesse, University of California, Berkeley

"Synthesizing twenty-five years of intensive study of Enlightened thought, this elegant deconstruction of proto-nationalist identities demonstrates that the most affirmative self-descriptions were in many ways idealized ‘phantasies.’ From the outset, Mah argues, concepts such as civility, progress, and classical beauty were riddled with gender anxieties, fears of cultural decline or backwardness, and incompatible reformist demands. This innovative book urges both historians of France and of the German states to adopt a more complicated understanding of ‘the Enlightenment,’ one that will require the rethinking of nineteenth-century intellectual history as well."—Suzanne Marchand, Louisiana State University

"Mah exposes many of the hidden ambiguities and unconscious contradictions that have been at the heart of modern French and German attempts to define each other and, in the process, themselves. Intellectually ambitious, interdisciplinary, and theoretically engaging, this book offers new insight into one of the great and enduring love-hate relationships of all time."—Robert Norton, University of Notre Dame

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