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Peter Gay

Related: Enlightenment - intellectual history - social history - cultural history - Weimar culture


Peter Gay (June 20, 1923-), a Jewish American historian of the social history of ideas, born in Berlin as Peter Joachim Fröhlich . After witnessing Kristallnacht in 1938, he fled Nazi Germany in 1939. His family initially booked passage on the SS St. Louis (whose passengers were eventually denied visas) but fortuitously changed their booking to an earlier voyage to the U.S. He came to the United States in 1941 and took American citizenship in 1946. Gay received his education at the University of Denver, where he was awarded a BA in 1946 and at Columbia University where he awarded a MA in 1947 and PhD in 1951. Gay worked as political science professor at Columbia between 1948-1955 and as history professor from 1955-1969. He taught at Yale from 1969 until his retirement in 1993. He married Ruth Slokin in 1959 and has adopted three step-children. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Gay [Apr 2006]

The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Science of Freedom - Peter Gay

  • The Enlightenment: An Interpretation: The Science of Freedom - Peter Gay [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    The Enlightenment by Peter Gay (2 volumes: The Rise of Modern Paganism and The Science of Freedom) surely ranks among the most brilliant accounts of eighteenth-century philosophy ever written. It is a sweeping account of the intellectual history of the 18th century, form its origins right into the French and American Revolutions. It traces the struggle of the small clique of 'philosophes' -a dispersed group of intellectual giants such as Voltaire, Hume, Lessing and Beccaria- as they fight against corruption, superstition and ignorance, which has kept Europe slumbering since the demise of the Roman Empire. The book vividly illustrates the ideas of the 'philosophes' and how they wanted to bring their reform programs into practice, and thereby spread the ideals of liberty and the pursuit of knowledge. Peter Gay deftly describes the cultural background of the 'philosophes' and explains how they came to challenge the establishment in order to bringing about these much needed changes so as to give their ideals a chance to prevail. The book has an extensive and well-readable bibliography with many good suggestions. This account of the Enlightenment is among the best ever written in the twentieth century, along with Paul Hazard's European Thought in the 18th century and Ernst Cassirer's The Philosophy of the Enlightenment. I do recommend all to read both volumes of this book. --w_oosterveld2 from Zaandam, Netherlands via amazon.com

    The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism (1995) - Peter Gay

    The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism (1995) - Peter Gay [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    Nowadays, the Enlightenment is often judged harshly for its simplistic optimism. Peter Gay revisits the sources to show that the Enlightenment's increasing scientific method and belief in reason marked the beginning of the modern age.

    Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (1968) - Peter Gay

    Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (1968) - Peter Gay [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

    About the Author
    Peter Gay is the author of more than forty books, including the best-selling Freud: A Life for Our Times and the National Book Award winner The Enlightenment.

    A seminal work as melodious and haunting as the era it chronicles, now reissued with a new introduction. First published in 1968, Weimar Culture is one of the masterworks of Peter Gay's distinguished career. A study of German culture between the two wars, the book brilliantly traces the rise of the artistic, literary, and musical culture that bloomed ever so briefly in the 1920s amid the chaos of Germany's tenuous post-World War I democracy, and crashed violently in the wake of Hitler's rise to power. Despite the ephemeral nature of the Weimar democracy, the influence of its culture was profound and far-reaching, ushering in a modern sensibility in the arts that dominated Western culture for most of the twentieth century. Vivid and eminently readable, Weimar Culture is the finest introduction for the casual reader and historian alike. --Book Description via Amazon.com

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