Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Guarda e passa

I have been reading Egon Friedell's curious masterpiece Cultural History of the Modern Age - it's magnificent and I do suppose it's war, meaning fundamentally very serious history (surely still quite hated by the academics). Flashes of genius all over the pages building to a perceptive, idiosyncratic vision of our civilisation. I stopped for a while at his description of Montaigne (and the patronising attitude of serious philosophers to him), "too wide a thinker to be contained into the narrowness of a system". A view I'm very sympathetic to (though Montaigne most probably would have been able to build a system, as I'm very obviously not). That surely goes to describe Friedell too, a most curious person himself, a cabaret actor and literary critic turned great historian, politely warning the passers-by before plunging to his death in Vienna a few steps ahead the SA men come to arrest him. A memorable scene part of the cultural history of our modern Western Civilisation.

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