The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Nordau, Max Simon

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NORDAU, nôr'dow, Max Simon, German physician and author: b. Budapest, Hungary, 29 July 1849. He studied at the University of Budapest, receiving his degree in 1872; he then traveled for six years, visiting the principal countries of Europe, and in 1878 began the practice of medicine in Budapest. In 1880 he went to Paris, and after two years of study resumed the practice of his profession there. He began his literary career at Budapest before entering the university as contributor and dramatic critic for Der Zwischenact; he subsequently was an editorial writer and correspondent for several other newspapers. His newspaper writings were collected and furnished the material for his earlier books, including ‘Pariser Studien und Bilder’ (1878); ‘Seifenblasen’ (1879); ‘Vom Kreml zur Alhambra’ (1880); ‘Paris unter der dritten Republik’ (1881), which are mostly criticisms of political and social conditions. In 1883 he published ‘Die konventionelle Lügen der Kulturmenschheit’ (English translation, ‘Conventional Lies of Society’), in which he shows what he believes to be the essential falsity of some of the social, ethical and religious standards of modern civilization; and in 1892 published ‘Entartung,’ translated into English under the title ‘Degeneration:’ This is his best-known work and provoked much criticism; in it he maintains that the civilization of the present, the new inventions and the growth of great cities have resulted in the degeneration of man, especially of the higher classes; that this degeneration is seen particularly in the lowered, and often depraved, standard of literature, art and music; and that the authors and artists of the day whose work is in accordance with these standards are themselves mental and moral degenerates. He is a disciple of Lombroso. His other works include ‘Paradoxe’ (1885; in English, ‘Paradoxes’); ‘Die Krankheit des Jahrhunderts’ (1887; in English, ‘The Malady of the Century’) ‘Seelen Analysen’ (1892); ‘Die Drohnenschlacht’ (1897); the novel, ‘Gefühlskomödie’ (1891; in English, ‘A Comedy of Sentiment’); and the dramas, ‘Der Krieg der Millionen (1882); ‘Das Recht zu lieben’ (1893); ‘Die Kugel’ (1894); and ‘Dr. Kuhn’ (1898); ‘The Drones Must Die’ (1899); ‘Zeitgenossiche Franzosen’ (1901); ‘Morganatic’ (1904); ‘On Art and Artists’ (1907); ‘Die Sinn der Geschichte’ (1909); ‘Zionistische Schriften’ (1909); ‘Mörchen’ (1910); ‘Der Lebenssport’ (1912). After the outbreak of the Great War he was, being a native of Hungary, accused of German sympathies; but he repudiated the charge, and afterward went to reside in Madrid. Dr. Nordau is a Jew and has been one of the prominent leaders of the Zionist movement. An attempt to assassinate him was made in the latter part of 1903.