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

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Editorial Reviews

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"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

About the Author

Harold Mah teaches European cultural and intellectual history at Queen’s University, Canada. He is the author of The End of Philosophy, The Origin of Ideology: Karl Marx and the Crisis of the Young Hegelians.

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