Counterculture and the Politics of Hope
The “New Age,” contrary to its stereotype of crystals, incense, and Tarot cards, describes important cultural movements of the 18th through 20th centuries which share a preoccupation with political change, experimental art, sex, new ideas about medicine, primitivism, and the familiar axis of love/nature/peace/spirituality. Green analyzes the influence of Gandhi, Tolstoy, Jung, William Blake, Gary Snyder, Rachel Carson, and many others, presenting an immense amount of diverse material in a coherent, imaginative, and convincing form.
An Historical Perspective: CE 330-1453
Robert Byron believed that the very summit of ancient Greek civilization was not to be found in 5th century BCE Athens, but in post-classical Byzantium, also called Constantinople by the Romans. Byzantine civilization was truly glorious, as we see by looking through Byron’s fresh eyes.
Being a Study of Certain Types of Civility
Do we want to be persons of culture, civility, and manners? Even in the contemporary world, where this question is not much asked, most people would respond with a resounding YES. Well, if you want to be cultured, civil, and mannered, not just another everyday barbarian, it will take some work, some training, and a good place to start is with Harold Nicolson’s very readable and entertaining book.
This is a study of the 18th century. Nicolson called his book “a gallery of portraits,” e.g. Saint Simon, elegant, a social climber; the dashing “Prince” Potemkin; Count Cagliostro, practitioner of “black arts”; Thomas Paine, inflamer of the masses; Jacques Casanova, lover, pornographer, and “con man.” This single masterful volume synthesizes, through people and events, the 18th century ideals of reason and liberty, the attack on superstition, tradition and authority which shook the world and produced a revolution in values.
The Epic Story of the Rich Rich, the Grandees of America and the Magnificoes, and How They Spent Their Fortunes
The Big Spenders was Lucius Beebe’s last and many think his best book. In it he describes the consumption of the Gilded Age. Beebe enjoys it all immensely, and so do we his readers, whether it is James Gordon Bennett buying a Monte Carlo restaurant because he was refused a seat by the window, Spencer Penrose leaving a bedside memo reminding himself not to spend more than $1 million the next day.
A Narrative of “Decadence” in England after 1918
Children of the Sun is a story of brilliant and later famous young people who deliberately chose “decadence” as an alternative lifestyle. The setting is England between World War I and World War II. The cast of characters includes Evelyn Waugh, Randolph Churchill, W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, and Cecil Beaton among others.