How may the historian characterize the Zeitgeist of the twentieth century? Is there, in fact, a distinctive spirit of the age? Is the twentieth century an “age” at all? For Egon Friedell, writing in the interwar years, the contemporary period marked the end of a sense of reality and certainty; man had lost his grip on truth. In The Shape of Things to Come, H. G. Wells’s imaginary historian of the far future described the twentieth century as the Age of Confusion. W. H. Auden calls it an Age of Anxiety, Franz Alexander an Age of Unreason, Arthur Koestler an Age of Longing, Pitirim Sorokin an Age of Crisis, Morton White an Age of Analysis, Karl Mannheim an Age of Reconstruction. This is also the air age, the atomic age, the space age; the century of total war, of the common man, of totalitarianism. It is postmodern, or post-Christian, or even posthistoric.
KeywordsDepression Europe Logical Positivism Recent Century Tempo
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