Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch

Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch

Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch

Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch

Synopsis

Christopher Lasch was a leading intellectual of the twentieth century. His work consistently probed the nation's political and cultural terrain, considering the unruly thrust of America's history and the possibilities of a better way. Hope in a Scattering Time is the first and only full biography of this towering intellectual figure.

Miller plumbed Lasch's published writings, his correspondence, and interviews and correspondence with his friends, students, and colleagues to create this comprehensive biography. In these pages Eric Miller captures the evolving nature of Lasch's understanding of the world and his fight for clarity and insight in a muddled age.

Christopher Lasch's sharp, prophetic stance caused many in his time to rethink what they thought they had understood, and to consider the world anew. Fifteen years after Lasch's death, the time is ripe to once again follow his lead and to reassess how we view and understand our world.

Excerpt

In his breakthrough book of 1965, Christopher Lasch rendered, in a style stark and subtle at once, “the sickness of American society” and the “general dehumanization of modern life.” It was a judgment he could not shake. in the years that followed Lasch became one of the most distinctive voices seeking to illumine the age and seize on a way forward. What he began in The New Radicalism in America as a fledgling thirty-two-year-old historian he would continue without halt for three decades: intelligent, insistent probing of the nation’s political and cultural terrain, with eyes trained on the unruly thrust of American history and the possibilities of a better way.

By the late 1960s Lasch had embraced the left, a young intellectual calling sharply for a “new culture, absorbing but transcending the old.” As the hopes of that moment disintegrated he turned his disappointment into diagnosis, unleashing a spate of essays, books, and lectures that sought to show why such a culture was being thwarted and abandoned. “Undoubtedly Lasch is on to something quite real,” wrote Time’s reviewer of Lasch’s 1979 volume The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. the review sat oddly next to the books on Time’s bestsellers list, itself an unwitting piece of promotion for Lasch’s book. The Complete Book of Running, Jackie Oh!, If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries What Am I Doing in the Pits?: each confirmed Lasch’s thesis and pushed thoughtful readers his way.

1. cl, nr, 324.

2. cl, aal, 212; R. Z. Sheppard, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” Time (8 January 1979), 78.

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