In Solar Dance, acclaimed writer and scholar Modris Eksteins uses Vincent van Gogh as his lens for this brilliant survey of Western culture and politics in the last century.
The long-awaited follow-up to Modris Eksteins' internationally acclaimed Rites of Spring and Walking Since Daybreak. Now he has produced another thrilling, iconoclastic work of cultural history that is a trailblazing biography of an era--from the eve of the First World War and the rise of Hitler to the fall of the Berlin Wall--that illuminates our current world, with its cults of celebrity and the crisis of the authentic. Solar Dance is a penetrating examination of legitimacy and truth, fakery and pretence--highly relevant to all of us today.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

The face is soft and pleasant, the forehead high, the brow clean. This man in his early thirties has wavy auburn hair and a mouth, small and gentle, poised on the verge of a smile that nonetheless never comes. The eyes, too, have a tentative look— perhaps ready to dart fawnlike side to side. The...
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Praise for Solar Dance

FINALIST 2012 – Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Non-Fiction
SHORTLISTED 2013 – BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction
LONGLISTED 2013 – Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction
WINNER 2013 – BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

“Brilliant.... Deeply researched.... The story of Wacker’s unlikely rise and equally quick unravelling makes for compulsive reading, made especially gripping by Eksteins’ sure-handed unfolding of the narrative. A crackerjack archival researcher, Ekstein brings to life not just Wacker but the world that created him and allowed him to briefly thrive.... Eksteins is a major historian and Solar Dance, like everything he writes, deserves a wide and attentive readership.”
—Jeet Heer, National Post
Solar Dance vividly captures the large within the small…. It’s a story of an evocative moment along the 20th century’s ideology-ravaged road.”
“Subtle and engaging…. Eksteins tells his story in a suitably looping and layered manner, with many darts and artful reverses, using a range of knowledge and allusion reminiscent of his 1989 masterpiece, Rites of Spring.”
—Mark Kingwell, The Globe and Mail
“Uses Van Gogh as a prism to illuminate the contradictions and complexities of modernism and modernity. The results are learned . . . elegant . . . provocative.”
Winnipeg Free Press