Berlin and Its Culture


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A Historical Portrait

Ronald Taylor

View Inside Format: Cloth
Price: $55.00
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This beautiful book—a full cultural portrait of Berlin—reveals the spirit of this vital and important city by focusing on the culture it produced from its medieval beginnings to the reunification of 1990. Lavishly illustrated the book surveys the literature, philosophy, music, theater, and visual and decorative arts that emerged from and were expressive of the evolving social patterns of the city.

Ronald Taylor brings to life the cultural activities of each age, putting these in the context of the politics and social life of the era. In relation to the medieval period, for example, he describes the "red-brick" Gothic style, Gothic art in general, and early printed books. For later periods, as the arts develop, he highlights the architecture, contemporary painting and sculpture, music, literature, furniture, and interior decoration. Great names inseparable from the life of the city—Lessing, Hegel, Schinkel, Mendelssohn, Menzel, and Fontane—appear prominently in the narrative. But Taylor also discusses lesser figures who, absorbed by their time and place, often tell us more about their era than do their greater contemporaries.

From a series of cultural cameos, including the Cold War years when it was divided by the Wall into East and West, Taylor assembles a fascinating picture of Berlin, giving insights into its corporate personality. The result is not only a fresh perspective on the city but also a framework within which to view the reunited Germany of today and the cultural paths it is pursuing.

Ronald Taylor is emeritus professor of German at the University of Sussex. He has been visiting professor at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of British Columbia. Among his many books are studies in the culture of medieval and modern Germany and biographies of Richard Wagner, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, and Kurt Weill.

"An ambitious—and successful—attempt to grapple with a problematic city. . . . Beautifully produced and profusely illustrated, a look at a city whose long history has much to teach us."—Kirkus Reviews

"From the earliest, murkiest times, Mr. Taylor describes Berlin's cultural and intellectual life with a scholar's knowledge and a writer's eye."—Economist

"Beautifully printed and splendidly illustrated. . . . Taylor's knowledge of the art, literature, music and architecture of Berlin is impressive. . . . The strengths of Taylor's work are remarkable. It is a serious and pleasurable volume."—John Lukacs, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[A] lavishly illustrated volume. . . . The author's aim was to 'culture the cultural spirit of Berlin in successive ages.' He has succeeded admirably. His final chapter—Two Berlins'—is a brilliant discussion of the relationship between culture and politics, between the arts and the state."—Contemporary Review

"This book has the texture of a stimulating set of extended, illustrated lectures on arts and letters centered in Berlin. . . . Both those familiar with German culture and those seeking to learn about it can enjoy Taylor's learned tour."—Richard Breitman, International Herald Tribune

"This book has the texture of a stimulating set of extended, illustrated lectures on arts and letters centered in Berlin. Taylor and Yale University Press deserve compliments not only for the clarity and quality of the 149 reproductions but also for their placement—as close as possible to the relevant portions of the text."—Richard Breitman, Washington Post Book World

"This is as fine a descriptive survey of so broad a subject as one is likely to get . . . [Taylor] has indeed illuminated an impressive number and range of cultural phenomena."—Ufl Zimmerman, German Studies Review

"This book will remain a standard work for many years to come."—Jennifer Taylor, European Business Review

"Abundantly and richly illustrated, this book is more a cultural than a political portrait, well worth its modest price."—Society for German American Studies

ISBN: 9780300072006
Publication Date: December 22, 1997
432 pages, 6 3/4 x 9 3/4
160 b/w + 50 color illus.