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Book review: ‘The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933–1973’ by Mark Greif

By Francesca Wade   March 2015

9780691146393The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933–1973 by Mark Greif (Princeton, £19.95)

What is Man? What, if anything, is fundamental in human nature? Why attempt to dissect the human condition at all? In this far-ranging, erudite survey, Mark Greif sets out not to answer these questions but to trace why and how they were asked and answered in mid-20th century America, and to analyse the effects of the surrounding discourse on intellectual history.

The Enlightenment anticipated that mankind would experience “ongoing, teleological and irreversible” progress;…

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