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1. Jacob Burckhardt, 1818-1897: Geschichte,
2. Geschichte der Renaissance in
 
3. Geschichte der Renaissance in
 
4. Force and freedom : reflections
 
$31.75
5. Die Kultur der Renaissance in
 
$30.75
6. Gesammelte Briefe Volume 5, pt.1
 
$46.88
7. Kultur Und Kunst Der Renaissance
 
$26.70
8. Gesammelte Briefe Volume 5, pt.2
 
$32.74
9. Die Kultur der Renaissance in
 
10. The cicerone an art guide to painting
$19.72
11. LETTERS OF JACOB BURCKHARDT, THE
$94.97
12. Jacob Burckhardt and the Crisis
$57.29
13. Jacob Burckhardt's Social and
 
$35.71
14. History: Politics or Culture?
$29.56
15. Aristocratic Liberalism: The Social
$7.90
16. The Impact of Humanism: The Renaissance
$44.99
17. Basel in the Age of Burckhardt:

1. Jacob Burckhardt, 1818-1897: Geschichte, Kunst, Kultur : Katalog zur Ausstellung aus Anlass des 100. Todestages (German Edition)
by David Marc Hoffmann
 Paperback: 95 Pages (1997)

Isbn: 3796510493
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2. Geschichte der Renaissance in Italien, von Jacob Burckhardt ; Unter Mitwirkung des Verfassers Bearbeitet von Dr. Heinrich Holtzinger
by Jacob (1818-1897) Burckhardt
Hardcover: Pages (1891-01-01)

Asin: B001B38Q1K
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3. Geschichte der Renaissance in Italien, von Jacob Burckhardt
by Jacob (1818-1897) Burckhardt
 Hardcover: Pages (1904-01-01)

Asin: B000R3J43Y
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4. Force and freedom : reflections on history / Jacob Burckhardt ; edited by James Hastings Nichols
by Jacob (1818-1897). Nichols, James Hastings (1915-) Burckhardt
 Hardcover: Pages (1943-01-01)

Asin: B002BBFGC8
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best Historians From The 19th Century!
Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897) was one of the most brilliant historians of the 19th century.Burckhardt was a professor of history and the history of art at the University of Basel from 1858-1893. He believed studying customs and manners of an era were more insightful than studying institutions.He also thought that by studying literature and art of a historic period contained a more meaningful truth than the history of events.This book is composed from a series of notes for lectures Burckhardt delivered from 1865-1885 at the U. of Basel.This book is a defiant counter-cultural look at human history from antiquity to the time of Napoleon.Burckhardt does not judge history by modern day standards, but seeks to find each historical epoch's own intrinsic meaning to the intellectual and artistic treasure of mankind.The historian's job is to observe, contemplate and enjoy. Although; not quick to judge the past, Burckhardt was quick to ridicule the "smugness" of his present times.Burckhardt had grave misgivings about "popular egalitarian democracy," watching it corrupt culture and politics.Burckhardt was an environmentalist worried about the ravaging of the earths natural resources during the industrial revolution.Burckhardt was very wary of the growth of the state politically and believed it was only a matter of time before the tyranny of the state would steal people's liberty.Yet, Burckhardt is no pessimist, he was a "philosopher of freedom," believing man could rise above the bleakest of circumstances.

He is an astute observer and is fascinating to read.His lectures have the clarity and historic scope like that of Lord Acton's works.I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in political philosophy, and history.
... Read more


5. Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien: ein Versuch Volume v.1 (German Edition)
by Burckhardt Jacob 1818-1897, Geiger Ludwig 1848-1919
 Paperback: 438 Pages (2010-09-30)
list price: US$35.75 -- used & new: US$31.75
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Asin: 1173284591
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6. Gesammelte Briefe Volume 5, pt.1 (German Edition)
by Burckhardt Jacob 1818-1897, Keller Gottfried 1819-1890
 Paperback: 416 Pages (2010-09-29)
list price: US$34.75 -- used & new: US$30.75
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Asin: 1173194916
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7. Kultur Und Kunst Der Renaissance In Italien (German Edition)
by Burckhardt Jacob 1818-1897
 Paperback: 894 Pages (2010-10-13)
list price: US$59.75 -- used & new: US$46.88
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Asin: 1172072248
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8. Gesammelte Briefe Volume 5, pt.2 (German Edition)
by Burckhardt Jacob 1818-1897, Keller Gottfried 1819-1890
 Paperback: 450 Pages (2010-09-27)
list price: US$36.75 -- used & new: US$26.70
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Asin: 1173111115
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9. Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien: ein Versuch Volume 2 (German Edition)
by Burckhardt Jacob 1818-1897, Geiger Ludwig 1848-1919
 Paperback: 462 Pages (2010-09-30)
list price: US$36.75 -- used & new: US$32.74
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Asin: 1173284583
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10. The cicerone an art guide to painting in Italy for the use of tr
by Burckhardt. Jacob. 1818-1897.
 Paperback: Pages (1908-01-01)

Asin: B002WV15EU
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11. LETTERS OF JACOB BURCKHARDT, THE
by JACOB BURCKHARDT
Hardcover: 327 Pages (2001-10-01)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$19.72
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Asin: 0865971226
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Editorial Review

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Burckhardt was the most renowned of the historians of the nineteenth century to predict, with astonishing accuracy, the totalitarian direction that history could take -- and which history in fact did take in the twentieth century. It was in his letters, rather than in his lectures or longer works, that Burckhardt most directly addressed the currents of intellectual thought and social and political order -- or disorder -- of Europe in the nineteenth century. It was in his letters, for instance, that he warned that these currents portended the rise of a new kind of demagogue unique to the modern era. Such demagogues would, Burckhardt feared, respond to the complexities and confusions of modern life by becoming 'terrible simplifiers', marshalling masses of people into totalitarian regimes for simple solutions to complex challenges that would wreak havoc upon numerous countries and millions of lives. Not only are the letters addressed to some of the most important thinkers of the time (Nietzsche, Burckhardt's younger colleague at the University of Basel, among them), but also they address the most pressing issues and the most important personages of the era. ... Read more


12. Jacob Burckhardt and the Crisis of Modernity (Mcgill-Queen's Studies in the History of Ideas)
by John R. Hinde
Hardcover: 327 Pages (2000-06)
list price: US$95.00 -- used & new: US$94.97
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Asin: 0773510273
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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With the values of Western civilization increasingly under siege, economic crises, political unrest, and environmental degradation oblige us to reassess the assumptions of modern mass society. "Jacob Burckhardt and the Crisis of Modernity", the first major study in English dedicated entirely to Burckhardt, offers a compelling and timely interpretative and synthetic analysis of Burckhardt's unique challenge to the values and assumptions of modern society, placing it within the context of his political ideology and his work in history and art history. Focusing on Burckhardt's lesser-known writings, John Hinde provides a new assessment of his position. As a historian of the Renaissance and the rise of Christianity, Burckhardt was concerned with periods of social, political, and cultural transformation. Writing in the aftermath of the 1848 Revolutions and in the long shadow cast by the French Revolution of 1789, he observed the rise of industrial capitalism and mass politics with trepidation.He especially lamented the fate of the individual, whose creativity had shaped the glories of the Renaissance and ancient Greece but who was increasingly domesticated and commodified in modern society. Unlike conventional accounts, which characterize him as an apolitical aesthete, Hinde shows us that Burckhardt was as a thinker of profound importance whose conservative anti-modernism ranks him with his colleague Friedrich Nietzsche. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Jacob Burckhardt - a voice of political sanity
Until very recently, I had associated "conservatism" solely with "neoconservatism", a line of thought espoused by the likes of National Review and The Weekly Standard.I generally preface "neoconservatism" with adjectives such as "pernicious", but the purpose of this review is not to bash neoconservatism, but rather to point out how the modern notion of "conservatism" differs from its historical precedent.Self-styled "conservatives", as well as lefties who can't see past the likes of Hannity and Goldberg, would benefit from reading John Hinde's "Jacob Burckhardt and the Crisis of Modernity".

Jacob Burckhardt is mostly known as an art historian (his The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance in Italy is considered a seminal work) although his historical expertise extended far beyond the realm of art (he also wrote books such as The Age of Constantine the Great and The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy.)Less known are his political writings.The title of this book is a bit misleading: I was expecting something similar to Spengler's Decline of the West, but Burckhardt's critique of modernity is only a small part of this book.

Much of the book is dedicated to showing the unique historical circumstances that affected Burckhardt's thought: the rise of nationalism, industrialism, mass culture, historicism, and the deep-rooted iconoclasm present Burckhardt's home town of Basel, Switzerland.Three concepts are key to Burckhardt's thought: Bildung, Kultur, and Amtsethos.These loosely translate to "general cultivation" (the pursuit of inner knowledge and development of self in the spiritual sense), "culture", and "sense of ethic or duty".Of these three, Bildung is perhaps the most important: to Burckhardt, the pursuit of inner knowledge and self-mastery represented the highest and best of the human spirit.

While Burckhardt held civic duty in high esteem, he had little but disdain for modern forms of "patriotism": during the "Basel Unification Festival" in 1892, Burckhardt wrote that it was "senseless" and that he will be "completely satisfied only if the whole pathetic fraud passes without incident." (p. 131-132).Burckhardt thought such crass displays of "patriotism" were little more than "food for the masses": historian David Gross states that Burckhardt viewed such events as "the sort of culture - perhaps kitsch is a better word- [that] was manufactured for the majority.. designed merely to titillate, not to elevate.It was a pseudo-culture without soul and led to what Burckhardt called `universal falsification'." (p. 132).

Burckhardt articulates a common concern among intellectuals at this period in his distrust of both the degenerate aristocracy and Mass Man: Burckhardt held both Bismarck's demagoguery and democracy in equal disdain.Hinde writes that "[Burckhardt] worried about the rise of mass democracy, which, he believed, would lead to socialism and the despotism of the masses... to his way of thinking, the triumph of democracy in 1874 in Basel was just the first step towards the despotism of the masses, and possibly, the destruction of cultural life through the leveling effect of mass opinion and mass culture." (p. 129-130)

Despite his resentment of the "universal leveling" caused by mass culture and democracy, Burckhardt had no illusions about being able to return to a prior era, as change was inevitable.Rather, he stated that we should be suspicious of notions of "universal progress", and not confuse material progress with moral and spiritual progress.Hinde writes that "The meliorist vision of society offered by liberal philosophy was nothing less than self-deception or delusion... it was a sign of spiritual or intellectual bankruptcy, of the triumph of a crude, destructive materialism."(p. 116)In a particularly witty passage that even foreshadows some contemporary environmental concerns, Burckhardt wrote that"We resist illusions - first of all, the illusion that humanity had been eager and longing, in the highest degree, to get out of the Middle Ages... in a large view, the Middle Ages may have been a time of salutory delay.If it had exploited the earth's surface as we are doing, we would perhaps not be around at all.(Would that be a loss?)" (p. 116)The idea of the modern age as one of "moral progress" was "supremely ridiculous" to Burckhardt: neither spirit nor brain has "demonstrably developed in historical times".How far removed is this from the spirit of neoconservatism, which would have us impose our "morally superior" consumer society on the rest of the world through force?

Burckhardt's believed that modern scientific principles were insufficient for explaining history.History was more "poetry" than "science", and Burckhardt held those who viewed history as a mere collection of political dates and names with disdain; this was especially true in art history."Art, with the exception of poetry, is the spirit which does not talk, but builds... it is the unspoken as such, that which consequently lives in forms and tones because it is not able to live in words." (p. 235).Art communicates through "mysterious vibrations which are communicated to the soul.What these vibrations release is no longer individual or temporal but immortal and of symbolic significance." (p. 235).In his historical work, Burckhardt always strove to uncover the "eternal" and not to fall sway to the prejudices of his time.

While his views on modernity were pessimistic, Burckhardt believed that "...a new existence, built on old and new foundations, will arise out of the storm... our destiny is to help rebuild after the crisis is past." (p. 200).While Burckhardt became disenchanted with Christianity at an early age, he nevertheless retained a highly spiritual outlook:despite the corruption inherent in the world, individuals of excellence can nevertheless strive for self-mastery (Bildung) by adhering to timeless spiritual principles.Hinde writes that Burckhardt sought to preserve a "'spiritual continuum', demystify the crisis of modernity, rehabilitate the past, and to secure future cultural renewal... he and his audience had to be active participants in the reconstruction of historical meaning."(p. 201).

In close, this book is highly recommended to all serious students of philosophy or political history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Burckhardt: A Man for Our Times
This book is meant to be read slowly and inwardly digested. But it will stimulate the mind of anyone who is seriously interested in the fate of history and art in the modern world. Jacob Burckhardt, the great Swiss historian of the Renaissance, is one of nineteenth-century Europe's most perceptive and prophetic conservative cultural critics. Professor Hinde offers us the first scholarly book-length study in English of a key theme in Burckhardt's work.

For Burckhardt, history is a product of our creative imagination, poetry rather than science. Artistic intuition directs every step in our historical thinking, sorting out facts and interpreting those aspects of the past that appear significant to us.

The purpose of history, as of art in general, is to cultivate the human spirit and yield a universally valid wisdom. Burckhardt contends that state support for art threatens its integrity. For the state requires art to serve economic, social and political needs that often clash with those of the individual person. Burckhardt also anticipates and fears the growth of a mass, unsophisticated cultural market that would commercialize and commodify art.

Even those readers who find themselves in disagreement with Burckhardt will find his arguments to be original and thought-provoking. Hinde is a trustworthy, fair-minded guide. ... Read more


13. Jacob Burckhardt's Social and Political Thought
by Richard Sigurdson
Hardcover: 272 Pages (2004-09-15)
list price: US$64.00 -- used & new: US$57.29
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Asin: 0802047807
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Contrary to his usual portrayal as a disinterested aesthete, Swiss cultural historian Jacob Burckhardt is characterised as an original social and political thinker in Richard Sigurdson's timely book Jacob Burckhardt's Social and Political Thought. Burckhardt's thinking on a number of ideas - including the relationship between the individual and the mass, the tension between the ideals of equality and human excellence, and the role of the intellectual in the modern state - is the subject of insightful analysis, thus providing a rare investigation into Burckhardt's culture-critique of the nineteenth century. Other important aspects of Burckhardt's life that undoubtedly influenced both his historical and political thought, such as his ambiguous relationship with Friedrich Nietzsche, are carefully scrutinised in this groundbreaking analysis of the Swiss historian.

Known primarily as an historian, Burckhardt's historical writings provide not only a powerful critique of his own times, but also a broad ranging political philosophy that can be placed within the larger German tradition of evaluating politics according to the values and standards of art and culture. Although Burckhardt himself expressed his scepticism towards general theories and claimed to be devoid of a personal philosophical position, through an examination of his works Sigurdson argues that both implicit and explicit political reflections and theories are recognisable.

... Read more

14. History: Politics or Culture? : Reflections on Ranke and Burckhardt
by Felix Gilbert
 Hardcover: 120 Pages (1990-11)
list price: US$20.95 -- used & new: US$35.71
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Asin: 0691031630
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Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886), generally recognized as the founder of the school of modern critical historical scholarship, and Jacob Burckhardt (1818-1897), the great Swiss proponent of cultural interpretation, are fathers of modern history--giants of their time who continue to exert an immense influence in our own. They are usually seen as contrasts, Ranke as representative of political history and Burckhardt of cultural history. In five essays, each flowing gracefully into the next, the distinguished historian Felix Gilbert shows that such contrasts are oversimplifications. Despite their interest in different aspects of the past, Ranke's and Burckhardt's views arose from common elements in the first half of the nineteenth century, the time in which they grew up and in which their first masterworks attracted such wide attention. This concise volume clarifies the beginnings of history as an autonomous discipline, while forcing us to examine our views on basic questions in historical scholarship.In the case of Ranke, relating his work to his times counteracts the current tendency to disregard the difference between the historical concepts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. By focusing on this difference, Gilbert emphasizes the originality and novelty of Ranke's ideas about history. Although Burckhardt is often portrayed as an intellectually lonely figure, this book reveals the importance of relating his thought to the intellectual trends of his time. ... Read more


15. Aristocratic Liberalism: The Social and Poltical Thought of Jacob Burckhardt, John Stuart Mill, and Alexis de Tocqueville
by Alan S. Kahan
Paperback: 242 Pages (2001-02-22)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$29.56
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Asin: 0765807114
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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Although the term "liberalism" is widely used to describe a variety of social and political ideas, it has been an especially difficult concept for historians to define. In this trailbreaking study in the history of European political thought, Kahan makes significant progress toward a general definition, and illustrates a strategic type of liberalism by linking three great nineteenth-century thinkers in a single intellectual and ideological tradition. Ignoring the national boundaries that often confine intellectual history, Kahan ranges widely through the works of Jacob Burckhardt, John Stuart Mill, and Alexis de Tocqueville, and discovers similarities in their thought. Kahan demonstrates their distaste for the masses and the middle class, opposition to the commercial spirit, fear and contempt of mediocrity, suspicion of the centralized state, and their limited hopes for saving European culture from militarism and barbarism through education. Their "liberalism" is an aristocratic one, based on an elevated idea of the human personality. Kahan establishes that Burckhardt, Mill, and Tocqueville shared a unique set of values, and a common political language that combined traditional humanist elements with an affirmation of modernity. He concludes with a correction to the prevalent misconceptions about nineteenth-century liberalism, and with a discussion of a typology of liberalism that will undoubtedly spark much scholarly debate. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars A Review of Aristocratic Liberalism
Kahan is obviously one of those so-called historians who disregards the particular elements of individual nations histories,which make their growth and development somewhat different than other nations, by imposing a broad theoretical framework on his subjects.

I can imagine his poor students struggling with notions of how in the world do I explain all of human history in Burckhardian terms. Kahan is not a historian; he is a social theorist with few insights concerning the actual "currents of social change" within individual nations or nation-states that explain their development.

3-0 out of 5 stars A history, really stuck in its time
This book is about the shape of intellectual perceptions in an era which was much more unsettled than the present, with preparation for a major war dominating the form of politics that were commonly perceived as getting along by going along.The index, pp. 215-228, covers a range of topics, and is good on the correspondence and works of Burckhardt, Mill, and Tocqueville, the major writers on the political situation of their era that form the basis for this book.The notes, pp. 167-206, are as expected for a book which began as a doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago.Note 5 on Chapter one admits, "Burckhardt left hundreds of pages of lecture notes on the Revolution, but his own opinions are so enmeshed in unattributed quotations and paraphrases that determining from the notes which thoughts are his has proved impossible."(p. 169).Reading the text of ARISTOCRATIC LIBERALISM with an eye on the notes in the back soon leads to sources that are from multiple authors.Note 33 is pretty clear that it is setting up a context.`For a few of many references, see Burckhardt . . .See also Mill, "De Tocqueville on Democracy in America" [II] (1840), CW, 18:167; Tocqueville, L'ANCIEN REGIME, OC, 2, pt. 1:47, 53;' etc.(p. 170).Note 34 cites both Tocqueville and Burckhardt in support of the statement, "The result was its destruction and the encouragement of a passion for unity and uniformity, for the elimination of special privileges and of independent groupings within society."(p. 16).

This book was published in 1992, long before 9/11/2001 became the dominant symbol of destruction that is such a contrast to the situation faced by Tocqueville, Mill, and Burckhardt due to "the social and cultural leveling carried out by the Old Regime gradually weakened and even destroyed all the bonds that had formerly connected individuals in a society of orders."(p. 16, citing note 33).This situation was taken seriously, but associated with "Individualism, in this negative sense, was intimately connected with political centralization.The destruction of political liberty--that is, of a political system based on local self-government--was the worst result of the Old Regime in Tocqueville's eyes."(p. 17).Calling a belief in any established order ARISTOCRATIC LIBERALISM, as this book does over and over, is almost quaint.Consider the choices faced by intellectuals of that time."Too many of the ideas of the Revolution and the Enlightenment could easily lead to despotism, whether by a party or by a military dictatorship, for the aristocratic liberals to be comfortable."(p. 33).Perhaps we who regularly demonstrate and vote against such dictatorial tendencies have escaped the need to confront such fears, now that society is organized mainly for work and pleasure, so that now, the only form of order more important than entertainment values is the form of corporate hierarchy which people expect to submit to on the job.

Chapter 2 of ARISTOCRATIC LIBERALISM, with its emphasis on the hegemony of the middle class, the commercial spirit, stagnation, and mediocrity, comes close to a description of the current situation, though it doesn't consider how popular the link of home entertainment could make such modern adaptations as movies and sports, typically ersatz activities which create the illusion that localities have some grasp on the attention of the people living in a particular area.On a national level, it is easier to believe that those carrying out policy are not quite following orders as much as they are following Donald Rumsfeld, an old man who could be replaced any minute, like the Secretary of the Army, who didn't have to give up his job because of anything he did at Enron.He just submitted his resignation anyway, quite recently, when he found out who didn't want to see him around anymore.If anything, we have advanced from aristocracy to a *throw the bums out* mentality that is likely to be applied with little or no link to reality, whenever the majority finds itself hurting.Chapter 3, "Despotisms: The State and Its Masters," tries to consider the dangers of Public Opinion, Suffrage, the Prussian Constitution, Socialism and the Fear of Socialism.

Chapter 4 is on "Modern Humanism:The Values of Aristocratic Liberalism."A theme of much of the book is that no one took the side of the aristocrats for their sake; they were merely valued because they were not perceived as being pawns."On the grand scale, diversity within a culture played a parallel role to the diverse character of human nature and particular individuals.A specialized society which allowed expression to only one aspect of humanity was repugnant for the same reason a purely one-sided specialized individual was:it was not fully human."(p. 104)."Burckhardt's Renaissance man was no example of calm balance and symmetry, in classical fashion, but of powerful, even demonic diversity of talent.As such, the Renaissance was in this way too the beginning of modernity for Burckhardt."(p. 105).

Chapters 5 and 6 still cling to the time frame of 1830-1870, in which "the priority many liberals put on preserving private property did not make them conservatives or reactionaries, at least not by choice, although when sufficiently frightened by the specter of socialism they tended to run for the authoritarian government, as Tocqueville lamented."(p. 141).Liberals in 2003 are still frightened enough of being called liberals to have much to say when confronted with long-term trends that could wipe out the prosperity which they claimed as a result of their policies in the 20th century.Liberals must be used to reading insults by now, but I'm not sure it will do them any good to read more of the type this book contains."One element of an exclusion principle is contained, as I have noted, in the statement that liberals are not democrats, and that anyone who believes in immediate universal suffrage is not a liberal."(p. 140). ... Read more


16. The Impact of Humanism: The Renaissance in Europe: A Cultural Enquiry, Volume 1 (Renaissance in Europe series)
Hardcover: 284 Pages (2000-02-09)
list price: US$60.00 -- used & new: US$7.90
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Asin: 0300082169
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The Renaissance, both as a concept and a period, continues to generate lively controversy not only among academics but also among the general public. Ever since the publication, in 1860, of Jacob Burckhardt's classic study of the Renaissance in Italy, scholars have disputed the origins of the movement and its subsequent influence on European culture and thought. This sequence of three course texts and two anthologies, published in association with the Open University, explores the Renaissance from the interdisciplinary perspective of history, literature, drama, religion, the history of art, philosophy, music and political thought. It provides students and general readers with an unprecedentedly thorough analysis of this absorbing stage in the development of Western civilization. Taking Burckhardt's The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy as its starting point, this volume seeks to explore the continuing relevance of this seminal study to our understanding of the Renaissance, as well as subjecting it to the criticism of subsequent generations of scholars.A particular concern is the 'revival of antiquity' which Burckhardt saw as one of the definitive features of Renaissance culture. This is explored through a reassessment of the role of humanism, with detailed case studies in music (Josquin Desprez), moral philosophy (Valla, Castiglione, More) and political thought (Machiavelli). This volume is the fist in a series of three specifically designed for the Open University course, The Renaissance in Europe: A Cultural Enquiry. ... Read more


17. Basel in the Age of Burckhardt: A Study in Unseasonable Ideas
by Lionel Gossman
Hardcover: 622 Pages (2000-06-15)
list price: US$54.00 -- used & new: US$44.99
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Asin: 0226304981
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This remarkable history tells the story of the independent city-republic of Basel in the nineteenth century, and of four major thinkers who shaped its intellectual history: the historian Jacob Burckhardt, the philologist and anthropologist Johann Jacob Bachofen, the theologian Franz Overbeck, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

"Remarkable and exceptionally readable . . . There is wit, wisdom and an immense erudition on every page."—Jonathan Steinberg, Times Literary Supplement

"Gossman's book, a product of many years of active contemplation, is a tour de force. It is at once an intellectual history, a cultural history of Basel and Europe, and an important contribution to the study of nineteenth-century historiography. Written with a grace and elegance that many aspire to, few seldom achieve, this is model scholarship."—John R. Hinde, American Historical Review
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Model Intellectual History
This book is a great example of what is meant by "intellectual history."Focusing on the four professors from Basel, Switzerland, Gossman explains their work and how their environment influenced that work.Basel is a small city state of wealthy merchants who look at the dawn of "modern" Europe with non-disguised horror and disgust.The critique is both with Prussian style nationalism and with incipient "mass culture," here represented mostly by "the press" and newspapers. These thinkers provided a conservative critique that has proved profoundly influential to thinkers on both the left and right.As you read Burckhardt denouncing the popular press, you can't help but think of William Bennett and the Frankfurt School simultaneously. How's that for influence and prescience?

Gossman also does excellent work summarizing the positions of opposing scholars.Pretty much everything about this book is well executed, and it's even more amazing because Gossman is a professor of Romance Languages at Princeton.This subject matter isn't exactly in his specialty.But, the Burckhardt would no doubt approve.Recommend!

5-0 out of 5 stars An Affectionate, Sophisticated Portrait of Burckhardt and His City
Lionel Gossman seems to be a student of human nature as well as a professional historian, and he is at his best when examining his main characters: the rather delirious Johann Jacob Bachofen (treated here at length); Friedrich Nietzsche (discussed much more briefly but to great effect); and the central figure of Jacob Burckhardt. For more than two decades, Gossman has been wrestling with the confrontation of these men and modernity in the historical theater of 19th-century Basel. This magnificent book is the result. Gossman writes about his characters with a certain wryness that may be born of familiarity, but his enthusiasm for them (particularly Burckhardt) has not been worn down by time or erudition. His style of intellectual history reminded me of that of Joseph Levenson in his trilogy on Confucian China: large-souled yet agile and ready to be delighted.

Burckhardt was a rebel, in his way; thus, in great part, the "Unseasonable Ideas" of the subtitle. As the previous reviewer noted, the issues being dealt with here are very serious ones for us today as they were in Burckhardt's time. There is a rebellious quality to Gossman's own thinking, when he invites us to re-examine some of our received ideas aboutdemocracy, culture, education and the well-lived life.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Look at Fin-de-Sicele Basel
Over the years many books have been written on the culture of fin-de-siecle Vienna, but no one had attempted a similar study of Basel, Switzerland, a city that blossomed as a cultural center during the Renaissance and then slowly faded over the centuries, as peace and prosperity teamed together to eliminate the tensions that make a city into a center of arts and literature. Vienna was done in by the war, Basel by peace.

Lionel Gossman has written an interesting and lively study of the city, choosing to focus on the four major thinkers that mark its last great period in intellectual history: Jacob Burckhardt, Johann Jacob Bachofen, Frans Overbeck, and Friedrich Nietzsche. and how their ideas were ultimately interwoven with the culture and tradition of Basel itself.

Recommended for anyone interested in the history of ideas and the question of not only whether liberty can co-exist with democracy, but can a culture keep alive in a setting that has escaped the tensions of its day, such as revolution, depression and war? ... Read more


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