Rites of Spring

The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Named "One of the 100 best books ever published in Canada" (The Literary Review of Canada), Rites of Spring is a brilliant and captivating work of cultural history from the internationally acclaimed scholar and writer Modris Eksteins.
Dazzling in its originality, witty and perceptive in unearthing patterns of behavior that history has erased, Rites of Spring probes the origins, the impact and the aftermath of World War I--from the premiere of Stravinsky's ballet Le Sacre du Printemps in 1913 to the death of Hitler in 1945. "The Great War," Eksteins writes, "was the psychological turning point...for modernism as a whole. The urge to create and the urge to destroy had changed places." In this extraordinary book, Eksteins goes on to chart the seismic shifts in human consciousness brought about by this great cataclysm through the lives and words of ordinary people, works of literature, and such events as Lindbergh's transatlantic flight and the publication of the first modern bestseller, All Quiet on the Western Front. Rites of Spring is a remarkable and rare work, a cultural history that redefines the way we look at our past and toward our future.


"Rites of Spring gives us nothing less than a retrospective of our entire century. It was born in a stunning burst of life, at once creative and destructive, that has yet to spend itself. Art and politics, dance and war, have never been the same. Rites of Spring is the start of a new history."
—James Carroll
"A remarkable accomplishment...Eksteins is as gifted a stylist as he is a scholar. The book is extremely illuminating on a whole host of topics, and one reads it with fascination and intellectual gratitude. A bold and unforgettable journey into the heart of our daemonic century."
—Alfred Kazin