Publisher description for Ancients against moderns : culture wars and the making of a fin de siŠecle / Joan DeJean.


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As the end of the century approaches, many predict our fin de siecle will mirror the nineteenth-century decline into decadence. But a better model for the 1990s is to be found, according to Joan DeJean, in the culture wars of France in the 1690s--the time of a battle of the books known as the Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns.

DeJean brilliantly reassesses our current culture wars from the perspective of that earlier fin de siecle (the first to think of itself as such), and rereads the seventeenth-century Quarrel from the vantage of our own warring "ancients" and "moderns." In so doing, DeJean shows that a fin de siecle taking place in the shadow of culture wars can be more a source of constructive cultural revolution than of apocalyptic gloom and doom. Just as the first fin de siecle's battle of the books served as the spark that set off the Enlightenment, introducing radically new sexual and social politics that laid the groundwork for modernity, so can our current culture wars result in radical, liberating changes--if we take an active stand against our own "ancients" who seek to stifle such reforms.





Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: France Intellectual life 17th century, United States Intellectual life 20th century, Ancients and moderns, Quarrel of, Social change France History 17th century, Social change United States History 20th century, Culture conflict