The First Moderns: Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought

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University of Chicago Press, May 15, 1997 - Art - 501 pages
8 Reviews
A lively and accessible history of Modernism, The First Moderns is filled with portraits of genius, and intellectual breakthroughs, that richly evoke the fin-de-siècle atmosphere of Paris, Vienna, St. Louis, and St. Petersburg. William Everdell offers readers an invigorating look at the unfolding of an age.

"This exceptionally wide-ranging history is chock-a-block with anecdotes, factoids, odd juxtapositions, and useful insights. Most impressive. . . . For anyone interested in learning about late 19th- and early 20th- century imaginative thought, this engagingly written book is a good place to start."—Washington Post Book World

"The First Moderns brilliantly maps the beginning of a path at whose end loom as many diasporas as there are men."—Frederic Morton, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"In this truly exciting study of the origins of modernist thought, poet and teacher Everdell roams freely across disciplinary lines. . . . A brilliant book that will prove useful to scholars and generalists for years to come; enthusiastically recommended."—Library Journal, starred review

"Everdell has performed a rare service for his readers. Dispelling much of the current nonsense about 'postmodernism,' this book belongs on the very short list of profound works of cultural analysis."—Booklist

"Innovative and impressive . . . [Everdell] has written a marvelous, erudite, and readable study."-Mark Bevir, Spectator

"A richly eclectic history of the dawn of a new era in painting, music, literature, mathematics, physics, genetics, neuroscience, psychiatry and philosophy."—Margaret Wertheim, New Scientist

"[Everdell] has himself recombined the parts of our era's intellectual history in new and startling ways, shedding light for which the reader of The First Moderns will be eternally grateful."—Hugh Kenner, The New York Times Book Review

"Everdell shows how the idea of "modernity" arose before the First World War by telling the stories of heroes such as T. S. Eliot, Max Planck, and Georges Serault with such a lively eye for detail, irony, and ambiance that you feel as if you're reliving those miraculous years."—Jon Spayde, Utne Reader

  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kant1066 - LibraryThing

Books of intellectual history with this size and scope are always difficult to talk about. I’ve read some that were abysmal failures, while others were highly successful. If I had to place this one ... Read full review

Review: The First Moderns: Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought

User Review  - Jeff - Goodreads

Modernism didn't magically begin in 1900. Many so-called modern ideas began in the 19th-century instead of the 20th. Everdell's views of the arts and sciences provide a complex and nuanced picture of ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION WHAT MODERNISM IS AND WHAT IT PROBABLY ISNT
1
THE CENTURY ENDS IN VIENNA MODERNISMS TIME LOST 1899
13
GEORG CANTOR RICHARD DEDEKIND AND GOTTLOB FREGE WHAT IS A NUMBER 18721883
30
LUDWIG BOLTZMANN STATISTICAL GASES ENTROPY AND THE DIRECTION OF TIME 18721877
47
GEORGES SEURAT DIVISIONISM CLOISONNISM AND CHRONOPHOTOGRAPHY 1885
63
WHITMAN RIMBAUD AND JULES LAFORGUE POEMS WITHOUT METER 1886
80
SANTIAGO RAMON Y CAJAL THE ATOMS OF BRAIN 1889
100
VALERIANO WEYLER Y NICOLAU INVENTING THE CONCENTRATION CAMP 1896
116
MEET ME IN SAINT LOUIS MODERNISM COMES TO MIDDLE AMERICA 1904
206
THE SPACETIME INTERVAL AND THE QUANTUM OF LIGHT 1905
227
PABLO PICASSO SEEING ALL SIDES 19061907
241
AUGUST STRINDBERG STAGING A BROKEN DREAM 1907
251
ARNOLD SCHOENBERG MUSIC IN NO KEY 1908
265
JAMES JOYCE THE NOVEL GOES TO PIECES 19091910
283
VASSILY KANDINSKY ART WITH NO OBJECT 19111912
303
ANNUS MIRABILIS VIENNA PARIS AND ST PETERSBURG 1913
321

SIGMUND FREUD TIME REPRESSED AND EVERPRESENT 1899
127
THE CENTURY BEGINS IN PARIS MODERNISM ON THE VERGE 1900
142
HUGO DE VRIES AND MAX PLANCK THE GENE AND THE QUANTUM 1900
159
BERTRAND RUSSELL AND EDMUND HUSSERL PHENOMENOLOGY NUMBER AND THE FALL OF LOGIC 1901
177
EDWIN S PORTER PARTS AT SIXTEEN PER SECOND 1903
193
HEISENBERG AND BOHR GODEL AND TURING MERGE CUNNINGHAM AND MICHEL FOUCAULT
346
NOTES
361
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
423
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About the author (1997)

Everdell has taught history since 1972 at Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, where he is dean of humanities.

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