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Schnitzler's Century: The Making of Middle-Class Culture 1815-1914

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  14 reviews
An essential work for anyone who wishes to understand the social history of the nineteenth century, Schnitzler's Century is the culmination of Peter Gay's thirty-five years of scholarship on bourgeois culture and society. Using Arthur Schnitzler, the sexually emboldened Viennese playwright, as his master of ceremonies, Gay offers a brilliant reexamination of the hundred-ye ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2001)
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I'd read this book because it promised to be a description and comparison of middle class life across European cultures during the nineteenth century and while I know a fair amount about British culture, I did not have a clear idea of how it compared to say, German or Italian culture at the time. Despite promises, differences between cultures were barely addressed, so I guess they were mostly the same? Kinda?

This is an immensely frustrating book in which the author is prone to stating several an
The rhetorical strategy of using Schnitzler as a vehicle for an exploration into the Victorians employed herein seems forced. In many instances, the prose itself is simply flat. I find Gay's deification of Freud to be utterly contemptible and do not recommend this book to anyone. Perhaps his larger works, of which this is a distillation, do not suffer from the same infirmities; however, I am not inclined to find out.
I love history. I especially love Victorian history. It baffles me why I hated this book. The analysis in this book was forced and dry and next to impossible to read without my mind wandering somewhere else. The only thing I got out of it was what a jerk Schnitzler was...which I am pretty sure was not the goal of the author. I had to read it all for a class but I really really wanted to chuck it across the room.
I've read a lot of reviews on this book that said it focuses too much on Schnitzler.
Well, yeah. Okay, it does revolve around Schnitzler a lot. But come on - the guy's name is in the title, so that is not that big a surprise, right?
In fact, I think applying the theory of Victorian bourgeoisie to an actual person works rather well as an illustration, plus it stops the book from becoming too dry.

I do have an objection, though.
This book was written after 'The Bourgois Experience' series which Gay al
Aug 23, 2007 Cat rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the neo-victorians.
Shelves: europeanhistory
Although I haven't read Peter Gay's five volume history of the victorian era, I just might check it out after reading "Schnitzler's Century". You have to be suspicious of any book where the offer admits that one might notice a more then faint resemblance between the current volume and the author's prior output(as Gay does in his foreword).

Regardless of any repetition, Gay is a more then capable writer, and I found the contentn of this book fascinating. Gay uses the framework of Freud to discuss
Seeing how Peter Gay spent five books on the Victorian middle class already, to cover the same ground in a single book, clocking in at just under 300 pages, seems like an editing project I don't wish on anyone. But sometimes you need a book of manageable length to introduce the period to readers lacking the gumption to down five volumes on the Victorian Age (I confess my interest in Victorian history doesn't run that deep). For this reason, I'm willing to cut Gay some slack on how quickly he mov ...more
from the library
page to copy: title and ToC
pages copied preface xx thru xxiii, 4 thru 9, 18, 19, 22 thru 35, coda 286,287

essential reading to understand the history of women's rights and the history of sexual mores in Western countries.

from the library computer:
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface xix
Overture xxvii
3 (32)
Home, Bittersweet Home
35 (28)
Eros: Rapture and Symptom
63 (34)
Alibis for Aggression
A bit disappointing as the gist is that Victorians were less "victorian" than we might imagine. Well I knew that and that the later in the period (especially if you are talking of the long 19th Century as here) was even more like the 20th.

This is good on detail about Victorian taste in arts, sexuality and privacy though. Indeed, this book would probably be ideal for anyone who says they hate History as it is purely a cultural history. Sadly, those people will probably never find their way to thi
Mr. Gay seems unsure as whether he is writing a biography of Schnitzler or an overview of the "bourgeois" of the Victorian era. The jumping between and weak comparisons are distracting and unnecessary. He should have picked one or the other.

The information provided in this book is neither new nor interesting to someone who has already read books on this time period. On top of that, Mr. Gay seems to have a determination to view most of what he is writing through the lens of sexuality a la Freud.

Lauren Albert
Interesting enough that I pulled out the first volume of Gay's five-volume history of the bourgeois experience when I was done. I've had it for decades. He shows how diverse the middle class experience was and how many of its members lived very un-stereotypical lives in everything from sex to art patronage. Definitely a good start for people who are intimidated by the five-volume history.
Fraught with anecdotes presented as case studies, generalized out into laws. Letting go of the need for water-tight argumentation, this is an interesting examination of a culture and a problematic class category. One wishes Peter Gay would have mediated a conversation between Luis Bunuel and William F. Buckley in follow-up to this book.
Geoffrey Rose
Probably a bit too breezy but Gay, an esteemed intellectual and cultural historian, makes a strong case that the roots of what we think of as "Modernism" were very much rooted in the Victorian age.
Unglaublich gut! Eine sehr gute Einführung in das Leben und Denken der Viktorianer Europas.
Dieses Buch hat das späte 19. Jahrhundert für mich noch interessanter gemacht.
We are all Viennese now.
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An intellectual and cultural historian, Peter Gay is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers (1997–2003). Gay is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Book Award and the received the American Historical Association's (AHA) Award for Scholarly Distinction.
More about Peter Gay...
Freud: A Life for Our Time Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond Mozart: A Life The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism

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