Hilaire Belloc (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
It is not surprising that, in a culture fascinated with the concept of “one’s place in history,” there should be a profusion of names for the present age. The 1980’s is an “after time”—postmodern, post-Christian, postindustrial, or even postliterate. Alternatively, the epoch is described in relation to specific technological developments: Cybernetic Society, the Nuclear Era, the Space Age. One could assemble a miscellaneous category, including such titles as late-capitalist, secular, pluralist, or the American century. This list of characterizations shows not only how many crypto-Hegelians there are around but also what dedicated progressivists we all unconsciously remain. For the emphasis here is mostly on the superiority of the present over the past. How fine to belong to the Information Age! What a pity to have grown up before the wiring together of Marshall McLuhan’s Global Village. Alvin Toffler’s “Third Wave” sweeps in and carries one up away from the agricultural and industrial past.
Be they “vulgar” or “critical,” progressivist assumptions usually cause one to overlook or misinterpret all sorts of odd and tantalizing facts about the present. One such fact is the emergence of fundamentalist movements, not only in religion but also in all parts of the social order, from education to architecture. Another such fact (the two may be related) is the curious attraction which the European Middle Ages is once again...
(The entire section is 1880 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1985)
America. CLI, September 1, 1984, p. 100.
The Atlantic. CCLIV, September, 1984, p. 129.
Choice. XXII, January, 1985, p. 687.
Commentary. LXXVIII, November, 1984, p. 69.
Commonweal. CXI, October 5, 1984, p. 539.
Kirkus Reviews. LII, June 15, 1984, p. 579.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXIX, September 2, 1984, p. 3.
The New Yorker. LX, January 14, 1985, p. 118.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXV, June 15, 1984, p. 67.
The Wall Street Journal. CCIV, September 18, 1984, p. 28.
(The entire section is 53 words.)