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By Theodore Ziolkowski

The triumph of avant-gardes within the Nineteen Twenties has a tendency to dominate our discussions of the tune, artwork, and literature of the interval. however the broader present of modernism encompassed many hobbies, and some of the most particular and influential used to be a flip to classicism.

In Classicism of the Twenties, Theodore Ziolkowski deals a compelling account of that stream. Giving equivalent cognizance to tune, artwork, and literature, and focusing particularly at the works of Stravinsky, Picasso, and T. S. Eliot, he exhibits how the flip to classicism manifested itself. In response either to the excesses of neoromanticism and early modernism and to the horrors of worldwide conflict I—and with respectful detachment—artists, writers, and composers tailored subject matters and varieties from the earlier and attempted to imbue their very own works with the values of simplicity and order that epitomized previous classicisms.

By deciding upon parts universal to all 3 arts, and punctiliously situating classicism in the broader sweep of modernist routine, Ziolkowski provides a refreshingly unique view of the cultural lifetime of the Nineteen Twenties.

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In sum, whereas in Strauss/Hofmannsthal’s Ariadne auf Naxos and in Milhaud’s Les Choéphores we find classical mythological themes with no classical form, in Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony we hear ample evidence of classical form with no serious turn to classicism as a mode. ” While this aesthetic play suggests a turn away from a chaotic present, the inner dissonances—­the audience and opera in Ariadne auf Naxos, Milhaud’s polyphonic harmonies, the tensions between Prokofiev’s formal devices and his inner avant-­gardism—­all hint at the inevitable awareness of the tumultuous real world in the background.

Laughing, he points out that the result was simply the destruction of a revolutionary tyranny for the sake of a reactionary aristocratic domination. “Freedom,” he concludes, “is actually more a romantic than an enlightenment concept” and produced a narrowing of human impulses by its emphasis on the self. True individualism, in contrast, is romantic-­medieval in its conviction of the infinite, cosmic significance of the individual, from which arose the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, the geocentric theory, and astrology.

According to Mann (as narrator of The Magic Mountain) “a human being lives not only his personal life as an individual but, consciously or unconsciously, also the life of his epoch and his contemporaries” (50). Various figures exemplify typical positions and views to which Hans Castorp, the naive young hero of the bildungsroman, is exposed and—­according to the Petrarchian motto placet experiri—­explores during his seven years in the Berghof sanatorium, situated some five thousand feet above sea Prewar Classicism 29 level in the Swiss resort town of Davos and thus both literally and figuratively removed “hermetically” from the reality of life in “flatland” Europe in the years from 1907 to 1914.

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