By Thomas Ort
In such a lot histories of Europe ahead of the 1st global conflict, smooth existence in Habsburg Mitteleuropa takes on a decidedly gloomy solid. Centering on Vienna within the twilight years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such bills describe the failure of rationalism and the increase of a perilous politics of myth. This publication tells a distinct tale, highlighting a iteration of Czech writers and artists individual by means of their affirmative stumble upon with the trendy global within the first a long time of the 20 th century. Novelist and playwright Karel Čapek, in addition to different contributors of his cohort, embraced the probabilities of the post-Habsburg period. Tracing the roots of Čapek’s iteration to cubist artwork and turn-of-the-century philosophy, writer Thomas Ort exhibits that the shape of modernism they championed led no longer into the thickets of fascism or communism yet in truth in the direction of liberal political beliefs.
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Additional resources for Art and Life in Modernist Prague: Karel Čapek and his Generation, 1911-1938
The merchants of “faith” and sworn enemies of reason had won the day. The fragile balance that Čapek had tried to strike between reason and intuition and among the self’s diverse constituents had collapsed. The world’s differentiation would now be resolved by force; in the Second World War, Čapek’s gravest fears about the modern world were realized in spectacular form. Whatever this defeat, the Čapek generation remains a vivid example of the alternatives that existed to the totalizing visions of the 1920s and 1930s, marking a cultural and intellectual trajectory grounded in acceptance of the fragmentation and differentiation of modern life instead of their overcoming.
As such, they are the finest statements of the intellectual trajectory of the Čapek generation. In the trilogy, Čapek argued for the value of intuition, not as a substitute for rational knowledge of the world, but as a means of grasping the self in its wholeness and fluidity. To do so meant to transcend the narrow conception of the self as equivalent to any one identity, character, or quality. It meant to reconceive the self as an ever-shifting compound or “crowd” of experiences, qualities, and fates.
Only by understanding the way in which their social and national circumstances shaped their cultural aspirations is it possible to appreciate that which is unique to Prague. 19 Taking Schorske’s lead, the Hungarian historian Péter Hanák has provided a useful contrast to Vienna by way of an analysis of cultural life in Budapest during the same period. com - licensed to npg - PalgraveConnect - 2013-09-11 42 Schorske’s principal thesis of a retreat into private gardens of the self in Vienna and identifies similar attitudes in Budapest (though he sees Budapest’s cultural development lagging behind that of Vienna by about a decade).