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From the “master of historical narrative” (Financial Times), a dazzling,
richly detailed, panoramic work—the first to document the genesis of a
continent-wide European culture. The nineteenth century in Europe was a
time of unprecedented artistic achievement. It was also the first age of
cultural globalization—an epoch when mass communications and high-speed
rail travel brought Europe together, overcoming the barriers of nationalism
and facilitating the development of a truly European canon of artistic,
musical, and literary works. By 1900, the same books were being read across
the continent, the same paintings reproduced, the same music played in
homes and heard in concert halls, the same operas performed in all the
major theatres. Drawing from a wealth of documents, letters, and other
archival materials, acclaimed historian Orlando Figes examines the
interplay of money and art that made this unification possible. At the
center of the book is a poignant love triangle: the Russian writer Ivan
Turgenev; the Spanish prima donna Pauline Viardot, with whom Turgenev had a
long and intimate relationship; and her husband Louis Viardot, an art
critic, theater manager, and republican activist. Together, Turgenev and
the Viardots acted as a kind of European cultural exchange—they either knew
or crossed paths with Delacroix, Berlioz, Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, the
Schumanns, Hugo, Flaubert, Dickens, and Dostoyevsky, among many other
towering figures. As Figes observes, nearly all of civilization’s great
advances have come during periods of heightened cosmopolitanism—when
people, ideas, and artistic creations circulate freely between nations.
Vivid and insightful, The Europeans shows how such cosmopolitan ferment
shaped artistic traditions that came to dominate world culture.

Orlando Figes—The Europeans - Three Lives And The Making Of A Cosmopolitan Cult

  • 9781627792141
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