Juvenescence: A Cultural History Of Our Age

Paperback | April 19, 2016

byRobert Pogue Harrison

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How old are you?  The more thought you bring to bear on the question, the harder it is to answer.  For we age simultaneously in different ways: biologically, psychologically, socially. And we age within the larger framework of a culture, in the midst of a history that predates us and will outlast us. Looked at through that lens, many aspects of late modernity would suggest that we are older than ever, but Robert Pogue Harrison argues that we are also getting startlingly younger—in looks, mentality, and behavior. We live, he says, in an age of juvenescence.
 
Like all of Robert Pogue Harrison's books, Juvenescence ranges brilliantly across cultures and history, tracing the ways that the spirits of youth and age have inflected each other from antiquity to the present. Drawing on the scientific concept of neotony, or the retention of juvenile characteristics through adulthood, and extending it into the cultural realm, Harrison argues that youth is essential for culture’s innovative drive and flashes of genius. At the same time, however, youth—which Harrison sees as more protracted than ever—is a luxury that requires the stability and wisdom of our elders and the institutions. “While genius liberates the novelties of the future,” Harrison writes, “wisdom inherits the legacies of the past, renewing them in the process of handing them down.”
 
A heady, deeply learned excursion, rich with ideas and insights, Juvenescence could only have been written by Robert Pogue Harrison. No reader who has wondered at our culture's obsession with youth should miss it.

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How old are you?  The more thought you bring to bear on the question, the harder it is to answer.  For we age simultaneously in different ways: biologically, psychologically, socially. And we age within the larger framework of a culture, in the midst of a history that predates us and will outlast us. Looked at through that lens, many a...

Robert Pogue Harrison is the Rosina Pierotti Professor of Italian literature and chair of graduate studies in Italian at Stanford University. He is the author of Forests, The Dominion of the Dead, and Gardens, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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The Dominion Of The Dead
The Dominion Of The Dead

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Forests: The Shadow of Civilization
Forests: The Shadow of Civilization

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Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition
Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition

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see all books by Robert Pogue Harrison
Format:PaperbackDimensions:231 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.9 inPublished:April 19, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022638196X

ISBN - 13:9780226381961

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments


1 : Anthropos
2 : Wisdom and Genius
3 : Neotenic Revolutions
4 : Amor Mundi

Epilogue   Notes
Works Cited   Index

Editorial Reviews

Winner of the 2015 Bridge Award in nonfiction for the book that most aided the goal of mutual understanding between Italian and American Cultures, presented by the Casa delle Letterature of the Municipality of Rome in partnership with the American Initiative for Italian Culture, the American Embassy in Rome, the National Italian American Foundation, and the Federation of Italian Writers, in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC, the Calandra Institute of New York, the Italian Institute of Culture in Washington, DC, the American Academy in Rome, and other cultural institution in the two countries.