When Erich Kahler’s The Tower and the Abyss was first published in 1957, T. S. Eliot made some striking comments about it that are very helpful in explaining why the work, after the passage of thirty years, continues to retain its exemplary value. In response to an inquiry from the Sunday Times about the book that had made the greatest impact on him in the past year, Eliot referred to Kahler’s exploration of the perils to which modern man has now become exposed. “Whether one agrees with the author or not,” Eliot said, “what he writes must provoke fresh thinking on the part of any reader capable of that exertion. There have been many books written on ‘the predicament of our age,’ some of which I have read, but none of which has impressed me more deeply. Few books in its field of thought since Ortega y Gasset’s The Revolt of the Masses have stirred and...


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