First published in 1950, this was a new work by Charles Baudouin, world-famous French psychologist and takes its title from the opening chapter, which examines the transformation of the myth of Progress, characteristic of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, into the myth of Modernity, characteristic of the time of writing.
The author has little sympathy for a development which he regards as essentially vulgar; the myth of Progress, he says, had its aspiration and gave man reasons for reaching out for better things, but the myth of Modernity ‘seems to give humanity reasons only for fleeing from itself, reasons for unhappiness, inasmuch as the man who runs away from himself is an unhappy man’.
This chapter is characteristic of those that follow – on Baudelaire, Verlaine and other literary topics; on Art and the Epoch, The Prestige of Action, Technique versus Mysticism, Opinion and Tolerance, etc. A broad humanity and a gentle irony are the characteristic features of this simulating book, now available again to be enjoyed in its historical context.
1. From the Myth of Progress to the Myth of Modernity 2. The Clean Sweep 3. Angelism 4. Politeness 5. Technique versus Nature 6. Baudelaire and the Modern Man 7. Of the Prestige of Action 8. Communions 9. Opinion and Tolerance 10. Humanism 11. Eloquence on Trial 12. Of Reading 13. Technique versus Mysticism 14. A Moderate View of Happiness 15. The Paradoxes of Education 16. The Gift of Childhood 17. Confidence in Mankind 18. An Apology for the Unruly 19. Withdrawal into one’s Tent 20. Verlaine 21. Art and the Epoch.
Charles Baudouin (1893-1963) was a French psychoanalyst. Born in Nancy, a town that played a significant role in the history of psychoanalysis, he was a contemporary of Freud, Jung and Adler. After receiving his degree in philosophy, he moved to Geneva where his early work and first book focused on suggestion and hypnosis, later becoming interested in literature and the relation between psychoanalysis and education. Largely forgotten, Charles Baudouin’s work warrants greater attention from both psychoanalysts and historians alike. He was a prolific author throughout his career; the Collected Works of Charles Baudouin is an opportunity to revisit some of his finest works.