Peter Gay is Director of the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He wrote Schnitzler’s Century: The Making of Middle-Class Culture, 1815–1914.


Witness to Fascism

Journal, 1935–1944

by Mihail Sebastian,translated from the Romanian by Patrick Camiller, with an introduction by Radu Ioanid
Early in 1935, the Romanian writer Mihail Sebastian—journalist, playwright, novelist, literary critic—decided to start a diary. He was twenty-eight. The first entry, dated February 12, hints at the events that preoccupied him. 10 PM. The radio is tuned to Prague. I have been listening to a concerto by J.S. Bach …

‘My German Question’

The following address was given in Munich on November 22, 1999, by Mr. Gay, after he received the Geschwister-Scholl Prize for the German translation of his book My German Question. The prize, which has been given annually for twenty years, is named in honor of Hans and Sophie Scholl, brother …

The Old New Man

The Political Philosophy of Rousseau

by Roger D. Masters

Rousseau and the Spirit of Revolt

by William H. Blanchard
Rousseau is the most exasperating of thinkers: the man keeps breaking in. Obviously the question of how much and what kind of biographical information is relevant to interpreting a system of ideas is a general one: it must be asked about austere metaphysicians as much as about passionate prophets, about …

Man in The Middle

A History of Modern France

by Alfred Cobban
Some historians are born controversialists, others have controversy thrust upon them. Alfred Cobban belongs to the first group; in a lifetime of vigorous and witty polemicizing, he has aimed at a variety of targets with a fine disregard for political consequences that only a thoroughly committed historian could muster. In …

The Present in the Past

A History of French Civilization: From the Year 1000 to the Present

by Georges Duby and Robert Mandrou, translated by James Blakely Atkinson
This book is as modest in its pretensions as it is impressive in its achievement. It claims to be directed at students, foreigners, and the general public; scholars are warned off: “Specialists in each period will learn nothing from it, and will note strange lacunae.” True, a book of 600 …