The Morbid Age
Britain & the Crisis of Civilization 1919-1939
Date of publication: May 2010
British intellectual life between the wars stood at the heart of modernity. The Morbid Age opens a window on to this creative but anxious era, the golden age of the public intellectual and scientist: Arnold Toynbee, Aldous and Julian Huxley, H. G. Wells, Marie Stopes and a host of others. Yet, as Richard Overy argues, a striking characteristic of so many of the ideas that emerged from this new age - from eugenics to Freud's unconscious, to modern ideas of pacifism and world government - was the fear that the West was facing a possibly terminal crisis of civilization. Ultimately, Overy shows, the coming of war was almost welcomed as a way to resolve the contradictions and anxieties of this period, a war in which it was believed civilization would be either saved or utterly destroyed.