Christopher Lasch, 61; Historian, Wrote `the Culture of Narcissism'

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 16, 1994 | Go to article overview

Christopher Lasch, 61; Historian, Wrote `the Culture of Narcissism'


Robert Christopher Lasch, a historian and critic of contemporary American society, died Monday, (Feb. 14, 1994) at his home in Pittsford, N.Y. He was 61 and a professor of history at the University of Rochester.

He was the son of Robert N. Lasch, former editor of the editorial page of the Post-Dispatch. A spokesman for the university said the cause of death was cancer.

Professor Lasch was a prolific author whose frequent contributions to such publications as Harper's, Time, the New York Times magazine and The New York Review of Books drew a following among intellectuals of both conservative and liberal camps.

Writing as Christopher Lasch, his books include "The American Liberals and the Russian Revolution" (1962); "The New Radicalism in America" (1889-1963): The Intellectual as a Social Type" (1965); "The Agony of the American Left" (1969); and "The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times" (1984).

His best-known book, "The Culture of Narcissism," published in 1979, was an unsparing critique of national attitudes that stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for seven weeks.

An original, independent and often somewhat iconoclastic thinker, he foresaw and dissected the selfishness and discontent of American society of the 1980s before the decade began.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter invited Professor Lasch to the White House to advise him on the national crisis of confidence. The outcome was the presidential address known as the "national malaise" speech.

In 1992, in an analysis of the writings of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Professor Lasch held that they disclosed a bias against conventional parental authority and a predisposition toward greater government intervention into the family. The essay delighted conservatives and alarmed liberals, who had regarded Professor Lasch as one of their own, and Mrs. …

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