We live now amidst the ruins of a civilization, but most of these ruins are in our minds.
—John Lukacs, The Passing of the Modern Age
We do not nowadays refute our predecessors, we pleasantly bid them good-bye.
—George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States
Nothing has been more remarkable in the cultural life of the past decade than the speed with which the imperatives of the modern movement have been stripped of their authority. Twenty years ago it was rank heresy to suggest that modernism might already have entered upon its decline. The assumption was that the modernist spirit was not to be construed as a period phenomenon, but as a permanent and irreversible condition of cultural life. Ten years ago it was still controversial, though no longer unthinkable, to claim that a decisive break had already occurred. Defections from...