Conventional Lies of our Civilization

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Conventional Lies of our Civilization  (1886)  by Max Simon Nordau
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Author of "Paradoxes" "Paris Sketches" Etc.

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Laird & Lee Publishers

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1886. by
in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1895, by
in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

Note by the Translator.

The success of this work, which from its very nature, can only appeal to a limited circle of readers, is something entirely without precedent, and can indeed be regarded as the literary event of this decade. Seven editions in as many months show the excitement and eagerness with which it was welcomed by the press and public in Germany—an eagerness that was only increased by the action of the Austrian government in prohibiting it and confiscating all copies of it to be found.

It touches upon all the problems of the day in its arraignment of the Lies of our Civilization, and discusses them with a liberality and audacity which are both fascinating and refreshing. Although it was written originally for German readers, and views the world through Teutonic spectacles, yet we find that human nature is the same the world over, and that the existing social, political and economic institutions are nearly if not quite so much of a lie in America as in Europe, although we can congratulate ourselves upon the fact that their restraints are not so irksome in this land of comparative liberty and plenty.

The contents of the book can be briefly summarized as follows:

Chapter I. Mene, Tekel, Upharsin (Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.).—A review of the different countries of the civilized world, art, literature, etc., with a description of the inherently false and dismal tone and tendencies of our age.

II. The Lie of Religion.—A criticism of religious worship, which at the same time expresses respect for all genuine convictions.

III. The Lie of a Monarchy And Aristocracy.—A scathing but amusing criticism of these worn-out and decayed relics of the past.

IV. The Political Lie.—A revelation of the lack of power possessed by the will of the people in republics as well as in countries with other forms of government. A timely and entertaining study of politics in all their phases.

V. The Economic Lie.—We find here abundant material for thought. The author traverses the entire field of political economy in its theory and practice, advancing many startling paradoxes and propositions.

VI. The Matrimonial Lie.—In this chapter the author expresses many of our own unavowed thoughts. His original treatment and his courage in calling things by their right names, render this chapter one of exceptional interest.

VII. Discusses the importance and abuse of the power of the press, the duel and the lies of our social intercourse.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

The author died in 1923, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 95 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.