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The Good, the Bad & the Bourgeois

Peter Gay
Peter Gay; drawing by David Levine

1.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the curriculum of Rugby School in England was dominated, as was true of other public schools, by instruction in Greek and Latin. In addition, however, all students from the first to the sixth grade read history, both ancient and modern, which was interlarded with generous portions of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Livy. Dr. Thomas Arnold, the famous headmaster of Rugby, once gave the rationale for this by saying, “The history of Greece and Rome is not an idle inquiry about remote ages and forgotten institutions but a living picture of things present, fitted not so much for the curiosity of the scholar, as for the instruction of the statesman and citizen.”1

History was central to Victorian education as a means of forming character and preparing students for the challenges of the times, and this was not the only field in which it was accorded a respect that has no equal in our own age. Because it seemed to express and validate the hopes and ambitions of the rising middle class and its belief in progress—after all, what Englishman would deny that he lived in a land where freedom broadened from precedent to precedent, and what citizen of the Bismarckian Reich that he was a beneficiary of history’s law of natural selection?—its influence was apparent in all fields of human thought and activity. This was true of the arts as well as the sciences. Historical painting remained popular throughout the century, and the historical novel had a vogue that was never enjoyed by the more analytical novels of society. Indeed, Leopold von Ranke, the most famous practitioner of Quellenkritik, always insisted that history was more an art than a science and cited Scott’s Quentin Durward as the ideal model of historical narration.2

In architecture, too, history found important expression. In an absorbing chapter in his new book on the ascendancy and eclipse of historicist culture in the nineteenth century, Carl E. Schorske writes of how the post-1848 tension between the crown and the liberal elite in Vienna was moderated by the construction of the Ringstrasse and how the different architectural styles of the principal buildings along this thoroughfare served as a kind of visual mastering of a difficult past. Crucial to this, he argues, was the construction of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and its positioning between the Rathaus and Parliament of the ascendant liberals and the monumental dynastic buildings of the Hofburg, so that it served as a bonding element between the monarch and the new elite. Schorske points out that the most visible symbol of the implied political compromise was the statue of the Empress Maria Theresa that stands in the center of the museum square, surrounded by the leading figures of her reign. These included not only her soldiers and diplomats, but representatives of the Enlightenment like the reformer Joseph Sonnenfels, who abolished torture, and Gerard van Swieten, who modernized the university, and great artists like Gluck, Haydn, and the young Mozart. He adds:

The Empress’s caring, motherly figure contrasts strongly with the two military heroes whom Francis Joseph had chosen in the 1850’s as focal statues of the Heldenplatz across the Ring. She stands in contrast, as well, to the figure whom the liberals chose to place before their Parliament: Pallas Athene. Lacking any heroes of their own in Austrian history, the liberals had turned to classical culture for an appropriate symbol.

Historicist architecture served other than political ends. It helped to alleviate the shock that the progress of industrialism and modernization inflicted on conservative sensibilities. Anyone who has traveled by train from Berlin to Hamburg will have been struck as he passes Potsdam by the imposing Turkish mosque on the banks of the Havel. This is the so-called waterworks of Sans Souci, built in 1841-1842 to pump water from the Havel to the royal fountains, and its impressive exterior is intended to conceal the Borsig steam engine that makes it work, as its minaret is designed to disguise the fact that it is really a chimney.

In cities across Europe, it was believed that such byproducts of the new industrialism as factories and railroad bridges would be less offensive and threatening if their stark utilitarianism was hidden beneath a style drawn from an earlier age. Schorske writes:

In London even the railway stations struck archaic poses: Euston Station sought in its façade escape to ancient Greece, St. Pancras to the Middle Ages, Paddington to the Renaissance. This Victorian historicism expressed the incapacity of city dwellers either to accept the present or to conceive the future except as a resurrection of the past.

Among intellectuals, the counsel of history was constantly invoked in debates about the shape of the future and the preservation of values in an age of change. Schorske describes how conservative thinkers like Coleridge and Disraeli sought an answer to the growing greed and individualism of modern society in the revival of ideas of community rooted in the religion-centered Middle Ages, and how Wagner and William Morris, at different stages of their careers, found in Nordic mythology the model of healthy community existence. Similarly, during the days when Germany was under the domination of Napoleon and seemed to have no future, Johann Gottlieb Fichte invoked the memory of the medieval German city, which he regarded as a pure creation of the Volk, as “the nation’s youthful dream of its future deeds,” and his eloquent championing of this model of communitarian morality provided new standards for the later criticisms of the nineteenth-century city as a center of capitalist individualism. Thus, also, Jacob Burckhardt, returning to Basel after the publication of his Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, and sensing that the neohumanistic values that had inspired the patricians of his native city-state were threatened by democracy and industrialism, abandoned scholarly research and took upon himself a staggering burden of public lectures designed to teach his fellow citizens how to understand history through contemplation and reflection, acting, as Schorske writes, like Nietzsche before him, as “a kind of home missionary whose vocation was to develop cosmopolitan Bildung in allegiance to the local scene.”

The ascendancy of history in the consciousness of Europeans began to wane in the second half of the nineteenth century. This had something to do with the decline of faith in progress, as intractable political and social problems multiplied and the counsels of tradition seemed increasingly bootless. Schorske places the turning point in the 1850s and writes:

No agreement yet exists on the great sea change in our culture ushered in by Baudelaire and the French Impressionists, and given philosophical formulation by Nietzsche. We know only that the pioneers of this change explicitly challenged the validity of traditional morality, social thought and art. The primacy of reason in man, the rational structure of nature, and the meaningfulness of history were brought before the bar of personal psychological experience for judgment.

This is a good working definition of modernism, and it is a pity that Schorske does not discuss the movement in its European setting (we hear nothing more, unfortunately, about Baudelaire, and little about Nietzsche), confining himself to a series of essays on individual expressions of modernist consciousness in Vienna which elaborate on themes already discussed in his previous book on that city.3 Still, we have no reason to complain about this. Schorske knows a great deal about Vienna, and the essays in this section are original and penetrating, particularly those on Mahler and Freud.

The rise of modernism in Vienna was conditioned by the breakdown, at the end of the 1870s, of the political ascendancy of the Liberal Party and the rise of new forms of mass politics. This shook the confidence of the liberal elite and weakened the cohesion of its cultural tradition, that synthesis of aesthetic cultivation inherited from the baroque and of rationalist political and academic dedication inherited from the Enlightenment which Schorske calls the union of Grace and the Word. Tolerance of opposing points of view became less frequent, the search for culprits on whom to blame the disarray of the times became more common, the tie between generations broke down.

Indeed, the evolution of modernism was marked by a series of Oedipal revolts by the sons against the fathers. The first came in the wake of the expulsion of Austria from Germany after the defeat by Prussia in 1866 and the subsequent economic crash of 1873, with its revelations of speculation and corruption in high places. Die Jungen in the universities called for a thoroughgoing regeneration of Austrian society and a new German nationalism (the critic Hermann Bahr recalls telling his astonished father, “Liberalism is finished. A new age is dawning. Make way for us!”), finding their models in ancient Greek culture and in Germanic myth as preached by Richard Wagner. This tendency did not last long, for the nationalist movement was superseded by the rising force of anti-Semitism, and those among its leaders who were Jewish—Bahr, Theodor Herzl, Gustav Mahler, Viktor Adler, Sigmund Freud, Heinrich Friedjung—were expelled. Their successors—the Jung-Wien movement of the 1880s, and the Secession of the turn of the century—were not interested in remaking society after ancient models, for they no longer, in Schorske’s words, “did their thinking with history.”

Jung-Wien espoused the “modern” (a word used only in deprecation by Wagnerians) as a form of existence and a sensibility different from all that had gone before, one detached from history. Although they still used the reportorium of history as a source of images, they ceased to regard history as a meaningful succession of states from which the present derived its purpose and its place in human destiny.

This was true also in architecture. Otto Wagner, a leading social critic of the Ringstrasse style, argued in an influential book that its architects, instead of answering modern needs, had been unduly influenced by the quite different requirements of earlier civilizations. What was essential now, he argued, was a public architectural style that would be consistent with the new building materials and technologies of the present age and expressive of its democratic, commercial, practical character. In the private rather than the public sphere, the Secessionists called for an architecture based on what Schorske calls “a new, meta-historical beauty” that would seek to adapt buildings to the personalities of their owners, and thereby—somewhat mysteriously, one might think—help to brake the dissolution of the ego in modern society, which was one of their principal concerns. At the same time, a bitter opponent of the Secession, Adolf Loos, who in 1898 described Ringstrasse Vienna as a “Potemkin city” whose façades hid a world of sordidness and squalor and hypocrisy, took the puritanical view that art and aesthetics, like history, should have nothing to do with architecture at all, which was merely a business of meeting practical needs in the most economical way.

The break with history was not, however, always so sharp and irrevocable as in the case of Die Jungen, and this becomes very clear as Schorske turns to the careers of the two greatest Viennese modernists. His portrait of Gustav Mahler, who once wrote of himself that he was “thrice homeless, as a native of Bohemia among Austrians, as an Austrian among Germans and as a Jew throughout the world,” emphasizes Mahler’s ability to understand and identify not only with the rich tradition of Austria’s past but with the warring cultures of her present. His path to modernism was marked by his widening of the classical idiom when he introduced vernacular popular elements from the musical practice of his Bohemian background, by a growing sensitivity to psychological states and to the power of the instinctual that was the result of his membership in the Wagnerian counterculture of the late 1870s, and then by a belief in art as a surrogate for life that resulted from his association with the Secession at the end of the century. Yet, as Schorske writes, “if as a composer Mahler affirmed in music a nonhomogeneous, contradiction-ridden modern world no longer easily contained in historically given forms, in his career as a conductor [as director of the Court Opera], he devoted himself to the preservation of the musical tradition.”

In the case of Freud, the founding father of the most influential of Vienna’s contributions to modernism, psychoanalysis, the stubborn persistence of his interest in history is even more remarkable. As a young man in the great age of modern liberalism, Freud was an ardent student of history, both classical and modern, but when he turned his interest to the psyche and the unconscious, and was working through the problems raised by his path-breaking work The Interpretation of Dreams, his historical interest went into eclipse. But it never died completely, and in a masterful tracing of the influence of other cultures upon Freud’s reflections about his own psyche, Schorske shows how it revived. Central to this was the triumph of National Socialism, which reinforced his most dire psychoanalytic forebodings about the return of repressed collective aggression and forced him to reconsider his own Jewish identity. His reflections culminated in Moses and Monotheism, his last major work, which, in a homecoming both to the Jewish culture of his fathers and to the universal liberalism of his early social environment, sought to hearten those who were struggling to save civilization from the new barbarians. In this work, Schorske writes, he not only resumed thinking with history but became a historicist himself:

Once again in the aging Freud, historicism was serving as a model to confront the uncongenial present with an assignment for the future, as historicism had so often done in the nineteenth century.

2.

Modernism, so prominent in Schorske’s essays, is also a central theme in Peter Gay’s new book, although its effect upon historical thinking does not concern him directly. Pleasure Wars is about the artistic and cultural tastes of the bourgeoisie, and Gay is well aware that most of its members stayed apart from modernism. The continued appeal of best-selling novels, light musical entertainment, and sentimental or religious paintings at the end of the century as opposed to the works approved by the avant-garde is enough to confirm this. So is the fact that in architecture, a favorite stamping ground of modernists, even those bourgeois with some pretensions to artistic taste seemed happy enough to leave them in abeyance when their own architectural arrangements were involved. Their desires usually went no further than “vague notions about beauty, practical requirements like a well appointed kitchen, and the longing for a small garden, [which] struck modernists as singularly unaesthetic.”

Even so, it would be a mistake on the basis of this to deprecate the cultural ambitions and attainments of the bourgeoisie as a whole. Nor does Gay allow us to do so, suggesting that it would be prudent to be guided instead by the youthful Walter Gropius’s answer to the question about his favorite color. Gropius replied, “Bunt—multicolored.”

Pleasure Wars is the fifth and concluding volume in Peter Gay’s grand investigation of the bourgeois experience and consciousness in the nineteenth century, an enterprise requiring a daring and breadth of knowledge possessed by few other contemporary historians, and one which he has carried to its term with inexhaustible energy and patience and an exuberance of spirit that has enabled him to rise above the sometimes niggling charges of his critics. The previous volumes have dealt with the role of sensuality and sexuality in the bourgeois experience, with love and its varied expressions, with forms of aggression and destruction and their repression, and with the exploration of the inner self through art and literature. All have been original in the choice of the materials used to elaborate their themes, often provocative in their conclusions, and always highly readable. This is true also of the final volume.

The idea that the bourgeoisie is bereft of interest in matters of art and the higher culture dates back to the time when the rising middle class was contesting the political and social dominance of the crown and the aristocracy. The mercantile origins of the new class led its opponents to attribute to it an insensitivity to any feeling for finer things, a prejudice that found expression, for example, in German student songs of the eighteenth century, which expressed good-humored contempt for the citizens of university towns, who were referred to as Philister, or unenlightened, uncultured people. Goethe’s Werther found more true feeling in the ordinary people than in the Bürger who considered themselves their betters, and his creator told Eckermann in 1830 that it was the narrowmindedness of the Philister that had driven Byron to his death.

As the bourgeois age came into its own, this opinion hardened, reaching its extreme form in the fulminations of people like the critic Georg Brandes, who once wrote: “One can never sufficiently imagine the philistinism of the Danish middle class, its impenetrable resistance to enlightenment and clarity, its cowardice and stupidity,” and Gustave Flaubert, who delighted in attacking the bourgeoisie as épiciers (grocers). Flaubert, Gay writes, considered them to be “commonplace, cowardly, colorless, censorious, sentimental, devious,…materialistic from head to toe, and bereft of all sense for the exotic, the adventurous, the extraordinary,” and he once wrote to George Sand, “Axiom: Hatred of Bourgeois is the beginning of all virtue.”

Were these opinions, as Gay seems to suggest by the emphasis he places upon them, too exaggerated to be credible? Probably not. So judicious a writer as Matthew Arnold once wrote:

Philistinism!—We have not the expression in English. Perhaps we have not the word because we have so much of the thing.”4

He went on to say that intellectual curiosity was not well-regarded in his country, the very word “curiosity” always conveying “a certain notion of frivolous and unedifying activity,” and that Liberal politicians as eminent as John Bright made a practice of flouting at the friends and preachers of culture, as if they were sure of the approval of their middle-class constituents.5 In most of Europe the teachers in the schools that taught the children of the middle ranges of the bourgeoisie resembled Dickens’s Thomas Gradgrind of Coketown in their belief that facts were more important than fancy. In his important report on the school systems of France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, Arnold noted in the 1860s that few schools, even in France, exemplified the French ideal of la grande culture, and many of them preferred to serve more practical ends, like the Swiss schools, which were guided by “a spirit of intelligent industrialism,” that saw instruction and the intelligence it produced as “valuable commodities.”6

In these circumstances, the arts were apt to be terra incognita for most of the bourgeoisie, and artists widely regarded as people whose lives were irregular and whose activities were offensive, if not subversive. This explains, at least partially, the shocked indignation aroused in the general public by the paintings of the Impressionists and other schools that departed from the standards set by state-supported galleries. It also helps to explain the wide approval that Hitler’s antagonism to modern art enjoyed among ordinary Germans. In this context the difficulties experienced by the National Endowment of the Arts in receiving federal funding in the United States might also be mentioned.

In the absence of statistical evidence, it is difficult to reach an entirely satisfactory conclusion to the difficult question of bourgeois attitudes toward culture, and Gay is certainly justified in insisting that there were more members of the bourgeoisie with active cultural interests than Flaubert would allow; he cites Baudelaire’s opinion that it might be a good idea to stop using the word “bourgeois” as an epithet, since so many of the maligned class were natural friends of the arts and others would like to be.7

Gratification of this last desire, however, was always determined by financial considerations. In a fascinating chapter called “The Political Economy of Art,” a phrase borrowed from Ruskin, Gay points out that members of the petty bourgeoisie had to spend a disproportionate amount of their barely adequate salaries on keeping up appearances, that is, in distinguishing themselves from the working class, and that this left little scope for internal improvement. The middle reaches of the bourgeoisie—teachers, lesser officials, reasonably thriving merchants and professionals—were better off, but not sufficiently so to frequent theaters and concert halls or travel to museums that were not situated in their home towns. Even so, the cultivation of music at home, the eager purchase of cheap reproductions of famous paintings, the use of Baedekers on occasional trips, and, now and then, a bit of extravagance to buy works of art or attend concerts are proof of significant cultural interest on the part of ordinary bourgeois. Gay tells us of a middle-grade court official who attended one of the sensational concerts that Paganini gave in crowded and stifling halls in Vienna in 1828 and wrote later, “It cost me a lot of money. I was dripping with sweat, but I heard him, and in order to get an idea of his playing, one must hear him.”

The spirit that guided this persistent music lover sometimes took collective form. In 1848, a group of Manchester merchants and manufacturers, led by a prosperous calico printer named Hermann Leo, invited Charles Hallé, the concert pianist and friend of Liszt and George Sand, to come to Manchester and, in Leo’s words, “stir the dormant taste for art.” Hallé did precisely that. Manchester already had respectable musical institutions, although not of a professional standard. Hallé remade its orchestra and, in decades of inspired leadership, “dragg[ed] the taste of its middle classes away from the seductions of the easy and the conventional” by a judicious mixture of the familiar and the new, introducing his audience for the first time to Berlioz and to Brahms’s Third Symphony. Since Manchester had no opera house, he presented concert performances of the third acts of Wagner’s Lohengrin and Tannhäuser. His experiments were supported with mounting enthusiasm by his middle-class patrons. In another, quite different city, Munich, the support of culture was largely the province of the crown, but independent groups of bourgeois businessmen often stimulated innovations in musical repertory and art exhibitions.

Gay makes the important point that the raising of standards of taste was not a natural process but often a matter of indoctrination. Many bourgeois did not know what they liked or what they should like, and here they needed someone to explain the importance of individual works of art and their deeper meaning. That function was performed by critics and, although many of those who posed as such spent most of their time pandering to popular taste—Gay remarks that “the lower reaches of French criticism were a slum”—the nineteenth century was fortunate in having others, like Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve and Théophile Thoré, who considered it a privilege and a deep responsibility to act as arbiters of taste.

Lord Acton once said that an honest historian was unlikely to have friends. In his long career Sainte-Beuve proved that this also applied to critics, but he never allowed his independence of judgment to be compromised as he pursued his goal of seeking to “renew Art and liberate it from certain conventional rules.” As for Thoré, the haunter of museums who first established the reputation of Vermeer, he was an uncompromising realist who labored to disabuse his readers of the idea that themes drawn from antiquity and mythology were the only proper ones for paintings and to persuade them that in any case beauty was the only true standard of judgment.

Gay acknowledges that it is difficult to say with any assurance whom the Victorian critics educated and with what result. Yet the fact that Matthew Arnold’s authority as a critic of politics and literature extended well into our own time suggests that he was not unheard in his own, and the very volume of abuse directed at Sainte-Beuve surely indicated a fear that his Causeries du lundi were having too much influence upon their readers. It would be equally difficult to determine how many people had their knowledge and appreciation of art improved by the donations made by Victorian collectors to museums and galleries, and, in a book about the taste of the bourgeoisie, it is surely more profitable to concentrate on what an extraordinary number of these collectors there were. Gay gives us a catalog of businessmen with no artistic credentials who, out of idleness or self-gratification or the sudden awakening of aesthetic inspiration or the desire to fulfill an old love, decided to begin systematically purchasing paintings and sculpture. He writes about the American sugar tycoon Henry Havemeyer, whose wife persuaded him to begin collecting Courbet nudes, and the German industrialist Eduard Arnold, who after making millions from coal mines, gratified a lifelong interest in art by beginning to collect contemporary painters, first Lenbach, Böcklin, and Feuerbach and then the French Impressionists, building a collection that included five Manets and several Renoirs, Monets, Pissarros, Sisleys, and Cézannes. As donors to public museums, bourgeois collectors like these performed the role that governments had played in the eighteenth century as educators of the public taste.

As modernism reached its high point in Europe, Gay writes, “the best publicized avant-garde performances remained an alien country to most of the bourgeoisie.” Even so, much had changed, thanks to the success of Sainte-Beuve and his fellows in liberating art and literature from the tyranny of received opinion. Gay believes that “for the most part it was the commitment, or the conversion, of cultivated bourgeoisie to the unconventional that would make the principle difference in the rise and triumph of modernism.” At the same time, it is worth noting that many of the bourgeois who had learned to throw off old prejudices and appreciate new forms of art had acquired the zeal and belligerence that often goes with the acquisition of a new religion. Charles Rosen and Henry Zerner have written that “the trouble with nineteenth-century art is that it seems to have been almost impossible to be an interesting painter without creating some controversy.”8 In the age of modernism the pleasure wars that resulted were no longer waged between artists and Philister alone. Bourgeois warriors were embattled on all fronts.

3.

Both Carl Schorske and Peter Gay have been strongly influenced in their historical work by the personality and thought of Sigmund Freud, and, in a statement in Pleasure Wars with which Schorske would certainly agree, Gay says that it is to Freud that he owes his “continuing sensitivity to the impact of social, political, economic realities on the mind.” This common debt is apparent when they write about their own lives, as Schorske does in a short essay in Thinking With History and Gay in his little book My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin.

Schorske’s essay, the larger part of which is an account of his teaching career at Wesleyan, Berkeley, and Princeton, will be of particular interest to readers who were themselves members of the academic community during the crises and cultural changes of the post-1945 years, a period of ardent reformers, and the 1960s, the time of rebellion of the frustrated and the defiant. Some of them will doubtless recognize their own experience in his account of how his psyche and his values and commitments were shaped by his discovery of Nietzsche and, later, by what he calls “the sudden blaze of interest in Sigmund Freud”; others will be struck by his acknowledgment that the development of the self is always subject to the dictates of the intractable external world and is often a circular process. At the end of this essay, Schorske writes:

Preparing this account…made me realize all too clearly that I have not moved very far from the issues that arose in my formative years, when, under the pressures of history, the value claims of intellectual culture and the structure of social power first appeared in a complex interaction that has never ceased to engage me.

In Peter Gay’s book, the external pressures upon the self are more insistent and menacing, for he describes the experience of growing up in Berlin as a child of a liberal and largely assimilated Jewish family in the first six years of Hitler’s dictatorship and what the lasting effects of this experience were. In telling it, Gay, who escaped with his family to the United States in 1939, betrays a recurring exasperation with the many people who are apparently convinced that any Jew who did not leave Germany immediately after Hitler’s accession was either a fool or a coward, and who underestimate the forces, both material and psychological, that militated against emigration, as well as (and this is often forgotten) the impossibility of predicting, at any time before 1938, what the Nazis intended to do about the Jews when the Nazis did not know themselves. “After spending years of pondering this matter,” Gay writes, “I remain convinced that our critics have never quite understood our dilemmas in the 1930s; most of them never even took the trouble to understand them.”

Gay’s family had a fortunate existence compared with most Jews in Berlin. His father was a self-made man, “a striving bourgeois” and “faithful partisan of the German Social Democratic Party,” whose business (which had to do with persuading specialty and department stores to sell mass-produced versions of high-priced articles that he selected) paradoxically flourished in the early Nazi years. Because he was a decorated war veteran, Peter was able to attend a Gymnasium of his choice, and his teachers treated him well. Thanks to his father’s contacts, he was able to witness the 1936 Olympics and a championship soccer final between England and Germany, which he calls the greatest experience of his youth. He had no experience of bullying or terrorism that others had to suffer. Nevertheless, he writes, “even the most fortunate Jew who lived under Hitler has never completely shaken off that experience,” and for adolescents like himself, he suggests, it may have been particularly hard, even when no brutality was involved, since they

had to come to terms with their hormones amid massive slanders of their “race” and mounting threats to their survival, threats which were in themselves, not so subtly, offenses to their manhood or conviction of desirability… that must have disturbed and delayed our sexual development in troubling ways.

The time of brutality was not long delayed, and the attacks on the Jews in Vienna that followed the Anschluss were the prelude to the orgy of violence in Berlin on Reichskristallnacht, during which Gay’s granduncle’s shop on the Olivaerplatz was completely devastated. Gay’s family now began to seek a way of leaving Germany, in a world in which there were many professions of sympathy for the Jews but very little willingness to take them in. Once again they were fortunate and made their way via Cuba to the United States. But the young Peter Joachim Israel Fröhlich brought to his new home a deep hatred for the Germany he left, a feeling that he repressed for years, refusing to talk about the Berlin that had been his childhood home and never visiting it until 1961. Not the least interesting part of his moving book, a book that he says is the “story of a poisoning and how I dealt with it,” is the account of his personal Vergangenheitsbewältigung—the process by which he came to terms with his own past.

  1. 1

    Peter Gay, The Naked Heart: The Bourgeois Experience from Victoria to Freud (Norton, 1995), p. 216. 

  2. 2

    Wolf Lepenies, Die drei Kulturen: Soziologie zwischen Literatur und Wissenschaft (Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1985), p. 308. 

  3. 3

    Carl E. Schorske, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture (Vintage Books, 1981). 

  4. 4

    Matthew Arnold, Selected Prose, edited by P.J. Keating (Penguin, 1970), p. 161. 

  5. 5

    Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy, edited by J. Dover Wilson (Cambridge University Press, 1971), pp. 39, 43. 

  6. 6

    Matthew Arnold, Schools and Universities on the Continent (London: MacMillan, 1868). 

  7. 7

    See Baudelaire, Oeuvres Complètes (Paris: Gallimard, 1976), Vol. II, pp. 351ff., 415ff. It has been suggested that Baudelaire was being ironical, and that his dedication of the Salon de 1846 in particular is a “comic dedication.” (See Charles Rosen and Henri Zerner, “The Unhappy Medium,” The New York Review, May 27, 1982, p. 51.) The editors of the Oeuvres Complètes take the line that Baudelaire was serious and was in essence arguing that the artist and the bourgeois needed each other. (Vol. II, pp. 1294ff.) 

  8. 8

    Letters, The New York Review, April 1, 1982, p. 47.