Books: Toward a Surreal Destiny

FIN-DE-SIECLE VIENNA: POLITICS AND CULTURE by Carl E. Schorske Knopf; 378 pages; illustrated; $15.95

When Vienna was good it glittered, and when it turned bad it phosphoresced. This shimmer of decay, 80 years later, still lights up the contemporary terrain so pervasively that the city seems less a historical place than a state of mind. Psychoanalysis was born there, as well as atonal music, several schools of urban planning and modern Zionism. Vienna also spawned the brand of hooligan anti-Semitism that was admired, studied and perfected by an Austrian named Adolf Hitler. The...

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