Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind

Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind

by Michael Murray


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Michael Murray’s Jacques Barzun is the story of the career and ideas of one of the twentieth century’s leading intellectuals. Jacques Barzun was the author of some thirty books of biography, history, and cultural criticism, among them the best-sellers The House of Intellect, an indictment of governmental and foundation interference with the autonomy of scholars and universities, and From Dawn to Decadence, an argument that the West was falling into decay and incapacity.
Barzun was the author of a definitive life and times—Berlioz and the Romantic Century—which helped to restore a maligned composer to his place in the front rank, and to reassess a creative period then widely considered corrupt. And he composed a definitive biography (though not in the usual sense of the word) in his affectionate reminiscence of his intellectual mentor— A Stroll with William James.
Barzun’s influence was great but subtle, perhaps because of the range of his interests. For example, in the 1930s he was in print deploring the superstition of race; and books followed that cast light on Marxism, on the putative gulf between science and the humanities, on teaching and learning in schools and colleges, and on the social importance of the life of the mind. Science: The Glorious Entertainment was one such book, as were Teacher in America and Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage.
His scope also suggests why Barzun as thinker is impossible to tag. Certainly he opposed the breakup into contending factions of his own field, historiography, and he decried the loss of collegiality among scholars in all disciplines. Specialization that sank into specialism ran counter to all that he stood for.
Michael Murray describes Barzun’s childhood in France, university training in the United States, work at Columbia University and as literary adviser at Charles Scribner’s Sons, and, insofar as pertinent to his thought, his marriage into the Boston Lowells and his relation with the New York intellectuals.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781929490417
Publisher: Beil, Frederic C. Publisher, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/10/2011
Pages: 319
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Murray compiled, edited, and introduced A Jacques Barzun Reader (2002), and is the author of Marcel Dupré: The Work of a Master Organist (1985), Albert Schweitzer, Musician (1994), and French Masters of the Organ (1998). He teaches a graduate course in library research and bibliography at Ohio State University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

A Note to the Reader xiii

Introduction xv

1 Early Years 3

2 Lyceen 13

3 Emigrant 22

4 Student 35

5 Valedictorian 46

6 On Racialism 61

7 Researcher Abroad 73

8 With Lionel Trilling 82

9 Simple and Direct 92

10 On Democracy 105

11 On Darwin, Marx, Wagner 112

12 On Romanticism 122

13 Literary Critic 128

14 On Music: Hector Berlioz 144

15 Dean of the Graduate Faculties 158

16 Dean of Faculties and Provost 167

17 University Professor 177

18 Signs of Cultural Decay 183

19 On God and Life: William James 199

20 A Catalogue of Crime 209

21 The Translator's Craft 217

22 On the West in Decline 227

23 Late Years 239

Notes and References 253

Appendlx A How Columbia Was Restructured, 1958-1965 285

Appendix B A Page of Columbia History 294

Appendix C Books and Translations by Jacques Barzun 297

Index 301

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