Flight from freedom: philosophic myth-making and the literary avant-gardism - Yuri Davydov

Yuri Davydov (1929–2007) was a philosopher, sociologist and literary critic, specialised in the history of social research on the Arts. The present book analyses the origins of literary avant-gardism, with special reference to the problems of personality during the crisis of bourgeois humanism.

English translation by Laura Beraha and Alex Miller (under the title: Myth, philosophy, avant-gardism). Raduga Publishers 1983. Бегство от свободы. Философское мифотворчество и литературный авангард. 1978. (taken from here)


A note from the author 5
Preliminary remarks 11

PART ONE: From 'The decline of the West' to 'The last utopia'

Introduction. An eyewitness account 27

Section one. Is man overcome? 38
Chapter one. Prospects and limits of the Faustian soul 38
1. The bourgeois individual and the bankruptcy of traditional ideals 38
2. Faustian man in 'The decline of the West 49
Chapter two. The death of god and the agony of man 63
1. The individual stripped of personality 63
2. The agony of man 75
3. Moral aestheticism and aestheticising moralism 85

Section two. Beyond despair 94
Chapter one. The bourgeois individual after the decline of the West 94
1. Between individuality and its negation 94
2. The fall of the individual and western culture 102
3. The suicide of art: A model for individual emulation 111
Chapter two. Breaking into the pre-individualist state 117
1. Covetous man (Left-wing Freudianism and the consumer society) 117
2. Marcuse on the left-wing Freudian myth of man 128
3. Fantasy turned against individuality 136
Conclusion 139

PART TWO: From the end of utopia to the beginning of anti-utopia

Section three. Revolt in the depths of despair 142
Chapter one. The revolt Aagainst the principium individuationis 142
1. Art as a means of expelling the personality from itself 142
2. Neo-Marxist nihilism and literary leftism 158
[Chapter two.]
3. The Frankfurt criticism of the conception of committed literature 173
4. The end of written literature? 183

Section four. The flight from freedom 199
Chapter one. Man enjoying the orocess of self-liquidation 202
1. Negation of the personality as a mystic cult 202
2. Neo-avant-gardism and LSD, the two latest drugs 213
Chapter two. Hedonism and cruelty 225
1. Non-restraint of urges 225
2. Politicisation of eroticism or ``sexualisation'' of politics? 230
3. The end of anti-utopia 237
4. The inner life and something about Goethe (contemporary moods in West Germany) 244
5. The shade of The Grand Inquisitor 262

Conclusion 268
1. The latest anti-humanism and the fate of the Renaissance-individualist conception of man 268
2. The adversary culture and the consumer society 276
Bibliography 288
Name index 293