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If entry into the aristocracy of the genealogical table was barred to most, the aristocracy of the spirit was open to the eager, the able, and the willing. Now, there are two peculiar features of this fateful collapse of Austrian liberalism; one is underscored by Schorske, the other is implicit in the enterprise of most of the writers, artists, and composers he studies. Freud, of course, gave the irrational unprecedented weight as the subject for conscious inquiry, while inventing, as Schorske shrewdly argues, a comprehensive intellectual strategy for neutralizing politics, a realm that had bitterly failed him, by insisting on the primacy of infantile experience in determining all behavior.

Klimt, Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler, Mahler, Kokoschka, and Schoenberg discovered various means for shattering the frames in which bourgeois culture had neatly contained the art-work; for assaulting the comfortable sense of a realm of autonomous beauty without harsh, disruptive truth; for giving vent through art to the darker impulses of a hitherto repressed self.

Prophets Without Honor

The Viennese modernists did not embrace nihilism but rather humanism with an admixture of nihilism. Members of a disenfranchised class, they never absolutely renounced the liberal values that had sustained their class, but they contended inwardly with chaotic forces that were beyond the ken of liberal ideology and excluded from bourgeois social norms.


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In the streets of Vienna and in its municipal offices, much the same forces, cunningly channeled by the new populist leaders, were launching 20th-century politics under the menacing signs of reactionary nationalism. It is one thing, however, to tap the irrational as a motor force for mass movements, and quite another to confront it consciously or intuitively, to discover its weight and meaning by refashioning it as art. Schorske, avoiding Marxist simplifications and using psychoanalytic categories with discretion, succeeds in showing the intricacy of the relations between art and class, art and politics in the generative center of modernism.

Prophets Without Honour , a book that celebrates the preciousness of a distinctive culture cut off in its prime, necessarily suggests an abyss that separates us from the vanished past. There was a dramatic urgency, a desperate excitement, that distinguished the modernist breakthrough from earlier revolutions in the arts, including even the Romantic one, and that gave it what has continued to seem a unique claim to authenticity.

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But Schorske demonstrates how, at least in Vienna, a necessary condition for all that urgency was a sense of radical impotence engendered by the failure of rational politics. The brilliance of modernism, then, flares out ambiguously against a background of political breakdown with which it may have covert affinities. In the aftermath of modernism, which is our own cultural fate, it is the aspect of breakdown that seems more clearly revealed in a self-directed art often withdrawn from meaningful connection with the troubling realm of history. Sign in to Commentary Email address. Remember me.

Sign In. But in Austria, the growing political power of the middle classes after , with the concomitant ascendancy of liberalism, led to a celebration of the arts as the supreme endorsement of a newly self-confident bourgeoisie: Art was closely bound up with social status, especially in Austria, where the representational arts—music, theater, and architecture—were central to the tradition of a Catholic aristocracy. Robert Alter. Published March 31st by Kodansha first published More Details Original Title.

Prophets Without Honor.

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9/3/2018 — A Prophet Without Honor

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More filters. Sort order. Sep 03, Kerry Burns rated it really liked it. The work is text book in nature and examines the social and psycholgical lives of Jewish intellectuals in the early 20th century in central Europe, particularly Germany. Art, literature, fiction, music and physics was dominated by ethnic Jews who for the most part did not practice their religion.

The author looks carefully at the prejudice and hatred toward them previous to the first world war and how it was used afterward to generate Hitler's rise to power.

Many like Einstein were able to escap The work is text book in nature and examines the social and psycholgical lives of Jewish intellectuals in the early 20th century in central Europe, particularly Germany. Many like Einstein were able to escape in time. Dec 15, Anthony rated it really liked it. Therese rated it really liked it Sep 30, Fritzffy rated it it was amazing Aug 30, Bria rated it liked it Dec 28, Mordechai Shinefield added it Oct 30, Lauren Albert marked it as to-read Oct 04, Odette marked it as to-read Jul 01, Judy marked it as to-read Sep 17, Tycen Bundgaard added it Apr 01, Quan marked it as to-read May 06, Jim Palmer is currently reading it Dec 05, Prabhakaran marked it as to-read Mar 14, Paul marked it as to-read Sep 30, Rene marked it as to-read Aug 16, Gerald marked it as to-read Oct 30, Joris van Laarhoven marked it as to-read Mar 07, Kevin marked it as to-read Jan 28,