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NORBERT ELIAS (1897-1990) was one of the greatest sociologists of the twentieth century. He studied in Breslau and Heidelberg and served as Karl Mannheim's assistant in Frankfurt. In exile after 1933, first in France and then in Britain, he wrote his magnum opus The Civilizing Process. At its ill-timed publication in 1939, it received little note. Only after his formal retirement in 1962 was the book reissued in German and translated into many other languages. That, and a flood of other books and essays, made him an international intellectual celebrity towards the end of his long life. His whole oeuvre is now appearing in new scholarly editions in the Collected Works in English. ERIC R. BAKER teaches German at Inver Hills College, Minnesota, and writes on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German literature and Enlightenment philosophy. STEPHEN MENNELL is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at University College Dublin.
Like his father Leopold, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was dependent on a court aristocracy in whose eyes he was little more than a domestic servant. Unlike his father, however, his personal makeup was already that of the freelance artist who sought to follow the flow of his own artistic conscience and imagination rather than the courtly conventions and standards of the day. In "Mozart: the Sociology of a Genius", Elias paints a portrait of this extraordinarily gifted artist born into a society that did not yet possess either the concept of 'genius' or (at least in music) that of freelance artist. The apparent contradictions of his character - the refined elegance of his compositions and the coarseness of his lavatorial humour - reflect his uncomfortable and eventually tragic straddling of two social worlds. The volume also includes two major essays on cognate topics, previously unpublished in English: on the courtly painter Watteau's "Embarkation for Cythera", and on 'The fate of German Baroque poetry: between the traditions of court and middle class'.
Norbert Elias, 1897-1990
Note on the text
The fate of German Baroque poetry
- between the traditions of court and middle class
Watteau's Pilgrimage to the Island of Love
- The Sociology of a Genius
- 1 He simply gave up and let go
2 Bourgeois musicians in court society
3 Mozart becomes a freelance artist
4 Craftsmen's art and artists' art
5 The artist in the human being
6 The formative years of a genius
7 Between two social worlds
8 Mozart's revolt
- from Salzburg to Vienna
9 Emancipation completed
- Mozart's marriage
Appendix I The drama of Mozart's life
- a chronology in note form
Appendix II Two notes
‘The enterprise of publishing the collected works of Norbert Elias under the editorship of Richard Kilminster and Stephen Mennell by University College Dublin Press is an extremely important contribution to the contemporary intellectual and academic scene. Norbert Elias was one of the most original minds in the human and social sciences in the 20th century – his work covers not only a very broad range of sociological topics starting with his classical The Civilising Process and later The Court Society, but also many topics ranging from sociology of knowledge to sociology of sport and analysis of historical processes; the broad philosophical problems, such as the idea of the place of the progress of symbolic dimensions in social life. This is really a monumental enterprise, very worthwhile and very constructive, presenting a great challenge to the contemporary intellectual and academic scene – and UCD Press should be congratulated in undertaking this enterprise.’
S. N. Eisenstadt
Jerusalem, 24 July 2008
‘Too easily the editors and readers of Books Ireland take it as given that Irish publishers’ books are mostly about Ireland or by Irish writers. We wish it were not so because we think our publishers are of world class, and a shining exception and exemplar is this series of eighteen volumes of the life’s work in English – some of his work was written in German – of Elias (1897–1990) whose major theme was the theory of civilising processes … Norbert is very interesting on the subject as well as on the dynamics of sports, social (and especially male) bonding, violence and football hooliganism. These books are in the very best tradition of design, with acid-free paper, sewn bindings, cloth boards, coloured endpapers, spine labels and acetate jackets.’
‘monumental series of the writings of Norbert Elias, regarded as one of the outstanding European thinkers and sociologists of the twentieth century … The books are handsomely produced in decent uniform bindings, each with an introductory essay and notes on the text.’
'The Collected Works of Norbert Elias that is being published by University College Dublin Press. Eighteen volumes are planned. The production is exemplary, from binding and paper quality through the editorial care. Earlier translations have been corrected and changes noted; editors’ notes explain circumstances within which Elias wrote and clarify references he makes to lesser known authors and contemporary events.'
Canadian Journal of Sociology 35(4) 2010
Read Stephen Mennell being interviewed about Norbert Elias
in Sociologica, 2014
Read the January 2015 newsletter of the Norbert Elias Foundation
Norbert Elias died on 1 August 1990.
To mark the twentieth anniversary, the German radio station WDR3
(Westdeutscher Rundfunk 3. Programm) broadcast a fifteen
-minute programme in its daily ZeitZeichen series
You can find out more information about Elias by visiting the Norbert Elias Foundation website