- Publisher: WW Norton & Co
- Format: Paperback | 368 pages
- Dimensions: 140mm x 206mm x 25mm | 340g
- Publication date: 26 November 2002
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 0393323633
- ISBN 13: 9780393323634
- Edition statement: Revised ed.
- Illustrations note: 12 b/w illustrations.
- Sales rank: 509,792
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-year period that began with the defeat of Napoleon and concluded with the conflagration of 1914. This is a defining work by one of America's greatest historians.
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Peter Gay is the author of more than twenty-five books, including the National Book Award winner The Enlightenment, the best-selling Weimar Culture, and the widely translated Freud: A Life for Our Time. He lives in New York City.
"Through Gay's eyes we can get a warmer, more vivid and more accurate sense of the 'bourgeois experience' than has ever been available before." Sunday Telegraph "Schnitzler's Century is really a love story. [Gay's] latest book allows him to show off in a field he has made his own. [He] takes his chance elegantly and always interestingly." Andrew Lycett, Literary Review "Gay's own psychoanalytical approach is shown to brilliant and convincing effect... Schnitzler's Century [is] told with wisdom, wit and sensitivity." Financial Times
Peter Gays five-volume study The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud was a massive history of middle-class culture. Now comes a single volume which (though not, as he puts it, a Readers Digest condensation of the previous work) distils the enormous amount of material in the previous books. In order perhaps to make it more palatable to the common reader, or simply to give it fresh impetus, Professor Gay has linked it to the life and work of the somewhat neurotic Austrian playwright and novelist Arthur Schnitzler, in particular to the diary he kept for many years. Schnitzler, Gay remarks, danced on the edge of bourgeois respectability, revealing a great deal, in the pre- and post-Freudian world of Vienna, about the sexual mores of his contemporaries. The author gives considerable space to sex, as well as to womens history, social conditions and religious and cultural history, dealing with Victorian attitudes to the home, to male and female aggression, anxiety, taste and so on as seen through the prism of Schnitzlers own behaviour and personality. Gay is critical of previous books on the period, which he finds confused and too often narrow and stifling. His own approach to history is psychoanalytical, and he fundamentally reinterprets generally accepted views about the Victorian bourgeoisie, particularly with regard to middle-class attitudes to life. He uses the term Victorian to encapsulate a period, rather than relating it solely to life in England - his book ranges across Europe and America. This is a fascinating book which, although it focuses strongly on what the author believes to be a mistaken 20th-century conception of Victorian sexuality, deals with every aspect of what may seem to be a dead world, but nevertheless lives strongly in the subconscious of 21st-century men and women. (Kirkus UK)