not the stor’ of the country’s Clyde Griffithsesrnbut the trajectory of the Americanrnpatrician class. By 1901 the British andrnAmerican empires were the twin superpowersrnof their day, although the locus ofrnpower had already passed to the UnitedrnStates, where it continued to move stillrnfarther west.rnThe power of the Anglo-Americanrnworld in 1901 was inseparablernfrom the worldwide prestige of thernoriginally English ideal of the genrieman.rnThat ideal, transformedrnand qualified by specifically Americanrnconditions and ideas, existedrnin the United States, too, incarnatedrnand represented by a minorit)-rnof people whose influence still exceededrntheir numbers. For manyrnreasons: because of some of the inadequaciesrnlatent within the idealrnitself; because of the shortcomingsrnof man’ of those who thought, orrnpretended, to represent it; and finallyrnbecause of their waning selfconfidencern—the ideal faded. Thatrnthis belongs vyithin the history ofrnthis century may be the theme ofrnthis book.rnIf Lukacs really has created a new literaryrngenre, the first thing to be saidrnabout it is that it is not especially kind tornreyiewers. In 69 impressionistic scenesrnwhose cast of characters includes tworngentlemen talking in the PhiladelphiarnClub on the day President McKinley isrnshot (1901); an American, a Norwegian,rnand an Austrian hiking in the CarpathianrnMountains (1908); three HungarianbornrnJews sitting in the Hotel Bristolrnin Vienna (1919); a yoimg Americanrncouple buying an Italian automobile inrnBrescia (1924); three American Catholicrnpriests in Munich to purchase a paintingrn(1927); a youngish convert to thernCatholic Church visiting her Quakerrnrelatives in Philadelphia (1928); a second-rngeneration immigrant pianist entertainingrnsociet}- people with Gershwin,rnKern, and Rodgers and Hart in privaternrooms in a grand hotel in New Yorkrn(1929); an Anglo-Irish woman visitingrnold money in Aiken, South Carolinarn(1933); an English liberal historian lecturingrnat Bryn Mawr (1936); a Polish foreignrnpolicy scholar addressing the firstrnpublic meeting of the United NationsrnCouncil of Philadelphia (1943); imprisonedrnFrench collaborationists hopingrnthe Germans will return in time to savernla France (1944); patrician, progressivernPhiladelphians having a dinner part)’ onrnthe terrace outside their renovated housern(1946); guests at a cocktail reception atrnthe Spanish consulate in Philadelphiarn(1951); Hungarian refugees arrivingrnin New Jersey on an Air Force planern(1956); a young Irish-American professorrncoming to believe that intellectualismrnis synonymous with liberalism (1962);rna Philadelphia society girl moved to bohemianrnNew York (1964); the boardrnof directors of a Catholic college lunchingrnat an Italian restaurant in NorthrnPhiladelphia (1965); a New York stockbrokerrnand his wife retired to their Mainernisland (1968); arrd a Philadelphia gentlemanrnpainter named “K.” (the “pseudoprotagonist”rnwhose birth occurs at thernbeginning of this book and whose deathrnmarks the end of it), Lukacs covers a lotrnof territory, historically and geographicallyrnspeaking.rnThis is part of it: the naivete and sterilit’rnof Progressivism; Owen Wister andrnthe American cowpuncher as the LastrnCavalier; the attempted rapprochementrnof the English and the American peoplesrnin a period in which America was nornlonger an Anglo-Saxon country; the reluctancernof many of the imperial Englishrnto be rulers of the world; the importancernof the discovery of radium and uraniumrnas changing elements; the difficultyrnAmericans have in differentiating whatrnthey believe from what they think theyrnbelieve; how America changed itsrnCatholic immigrants (and the Churchrntoo, to some extent) rather than beingrnchanged by them; why “all immigrantsrnlie” to themselves and to Americansrnabout their reasons for coming tornAmerica; how America is really olderrnthan Europe (practical, non-intellectualrnAmericans have been largely unable torncomprehend modernist Europe, its politicalrnmovements as well as its culturalrnones); how the standardization of culturernproduces caricature as well as conformih’;rnhow humanistic civilization has givenrnway to scientistic culture; the rise of thernliberal intellectual class and the modernrnintellectual; how Progressivist and PopulistrnAmerica was open to the “celluloidrndreamworld of the movies,” and howrnHollywood came to symbolize the risernand decline of the American Century;rnthe split-mindedness that allows Americansrnto change their ideas withoutrnchanging themselves; the replacementrnof aristocratic diplomacy by the bureaucraticrnkind; the fading of the Englishrnmasculine ideal; an instance of whatrnFlannery O’Connor called “an action ofrngrace,” poignantly described; the yearningrnof second-generation immigrants forrnurbane American elegance; the puerilityrnof modern American men; the unwillingnessrnof Americans to think about, letrnalone argue, “controversial” topics andrntheir willingness to accept anything, inrntime; the neo-medievalism of the Americanrnmind in the 1950’s; the tendency ofrnAmericans to mistake ideas for principles;rna new kind of intellectual dishonesty,rnpervading all of contemporar’ lifernin America; the “strange atrophy” of thernAmerican will; and the barbarization ofrnlife in the United States.rnIt sounds like a fair question to ask,rn”What do all these subjects have inrncommon anyway, and what have they torndo with the decline of the Anglo-Saxonrngentleman?” The answer is, “Everything,”rnas Lukacs so compellingly andrndeftly reveals. The ideal of the gentleman,rnafter all, is not a matter of snobbery,rnnor is it a trivial and superficial one confinedrnappropriately to Town and Countryrnand the old Vanity Fair. If for 200 yearsrnthe English-Americans were “the mostrnrespected and admired men in thernworld,” gentlemanliness was for much,rnmuch longer almost as basic a componentrnof English civilization as Christianity,rnone of the two main sources of thernideal —the other being chivalry, itself arnpaganized offshoot of Christendom originatingrnin the 12th century in southernrnFrance. For much of English histor’ therngentiemanly ideal was as essential to Englishrncivilization as the egalitarian one isrnto contemporary culture in England andrnAmerica—which is wh}’ Lukacs identifiesrnpopidar sovereignt}’, together withrnscience (scientism, really), as foremostrnamong its destroyers. The idea of the Anglo-rnSaxon gentleman is radical to ourrncivilization, the sap that had lifted the basicrnnutritional elements through therntrunk and dispersed it to the twigs at thernends of the branches. Cut oft the flowrnand the entire tree is affected. In fact, itrndies.rnLukacs sees a failure of will — nerve isrnperhaps a better word — in the catastrophe.rnIt is an interesting question, however,rnto what extent the Anglo-Americanrnideal contained the seeds of its own destructionrn—meaning, I suppose, how extensivernwere its weaknesses and howrnmuch of it was, indeed, inusor’. An idealrnceaselessly subjected to continued re-rnAUCUST 1998/25rnrnrn