With the values of Western civilization increasingly under siege, economic crises, political unrest, and environmental degradation oblige us to reassess the assumptions of modern mass society. Jacob Burckhardt and the Crisis of Modernity, the first major study in English dedicated entirely to Burckhardt, offers a compelling and timely interpretative and synthetic analysis of Burckhardt's unique challenge to the values and assumptions of modern society, placing it within the context of his political ideology and his work in history and art history. Focusing on Burckhardt's lesser-known writings, John Hinde provides a new assessment of his position.
As a historian of the Renaissance and the rise of Christianity, Burckhardt was concerned with periods of social, political, and cultural transformation. Writing in the aftermath of the 1848 Revolutions and in the long shadow cast by the French Revolution of 1789, he observed the rise of industrial capitalism and mass politics with trepidation. He especially lamented the fate of the individual, whose creativity had shaped the glories of the Renaissance and ancient Greece but who was increasingly domesticated and commodified in modern society.
Unlike conventional accounts, which characterize him as an apolitical aesthete, Hinde shows us that Burckhardt was as a thinker of profound importance whose conservative anti-modernism ranks him with his colleague Friedrich Nietzsche.