Modernity and Bourgeois Life: Society, Politics, and Culture by Jerrold Seigel

By Jerrold Seigel

To be sleek may perhaps suggest many alternative issues, yet for nineteenth-century Europeans 'modernity' advised a brand new type of lifestyles within which bourgeois actions, humans, attitudes and values all performed key roles. Jerrold Seigel's panoramic new background deals a magisterial and hugely unique account of the binds among modernity and bourgeois lifestyles, arguing that they are often most sensible understood now not when it comes to the increase and fall of social periods, yet as good points in their universal participation in increasing and thickening networks that associated jointly far-off energies and assets throughout financial, political and cultural existence. Exploring different configurations of those networks in England, France and Germany, he indicates how their styles gave upward push to distinct types of modernity in each one state and formed the rhythm and nature of swap throughout spheres as different as politics, funds and finance, gender relatives, morality, and literary, creative and musical lifestyles.

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These contrasts in the three countries’ histories must not be allowed to hide some significant similarities between them, however, and in particular the shared rhythm of transformation that made the decades following the abortive revolutions of 1848 the moment when newly powerful networks greatly heightened the importance of distant and mediated relationships in society as a whole. As I will try to 33 / An outline of what follows show below, the developing connections between people at a distance effected earlier by such linkages as international trade, the puttingout system, urban growth, improved transport, “public opinion,” and Enlightenment criticism encouraged the emergence of “autonomous” principles in opposition to the ordained or teleocratic ones supposed to regulate economic, political, and cultural interchanges.

Little of the information provided here is new or based on original research (except for the readings of literary and philosophical texts and visual images, which are my own and may offer some surprises); throughout it is the general argument outlined above that ties the material together and gives the discussion whatever power of illumination it may bear. One reason why I have been able to draw on other people’s work so 36 / Introduction: ends and means extensively is that seeds and springs of the interpretation I offer have been developing for some time, if largely unawares, in much of it, so that taken together earlier studies provide more nourishment for the perspective developed here than their authors might have supposed (or in some cases wished).

One reason why I have been able to draw on other people’s work so 36 / Introduction: ends and means extensively is that seeds and springs of the interpretation I offer have been developing for some time, if largely unawares, in much of it, so that taken together earlier studies provide more nourishment for the perspective developed here than their authors might have supposed (or in some cases wished). At the same time, giving substance to the ideas developed here entails arguing against some widely accepted notions and the writers who propound them (a task already begun in this Introduction).

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